Lynx: The Hunted Hunter

 Once upon a time1 in the deep, dark woods, a group of hunters came with their arrows and killed lots of game. And then they had a feast of fried meat and the finest wine. When the party was over and everybody was asleep, silence once again returned to the woods, but some of the hunted animals were still alive and struggling. Before dawn, the chief hunter was roughly awakened: in front of him stood a man wrapped in a white cloak. "I am the spirit of these woods," the white-cloaked man said. "Now it is time for your punishment, because you and your men have brought woe to the animals here. So you shall become a wild, frightful beast with a demoniac grin that all men and animals will run away from. In daytime you shall hide in tree hollows, and at night you shall go looking for food." The white-cloaked man touched his head with his sword, turning the chief into a lynx who ran into the deep, dark woods. Indeed the lynx (Lynx lynx), an elusive night hunter who prefers the silence and solitude of the deepest woods, is a blood-thirsty meat eater2, feasting on the blood-filled heart, liver and lungs of the animals he hunts. He mostly goes hunting at dusk, after usually spending the day hiding in the leafy trees of the dense mountain forests. This feared hunter will pursue birds, stags, deer, and wild boars across a hunting ground of thousands of hectares. He is agile, amazingly strong and resilient, capable of leaping up to six meters, and a splendid swimmer. But he can be a scavenger too, and, sometimes, as he seeks domestic animals, he gets dangerously close to his only natural enemy: man3. Indeed, historically the lynx has been much more vulnerable to hunters than the wolf, mostly because the lynx does not fear man. Hunted to extinction, the lynx has disappeared from much of Europe, now being found only in Romania4 (approximately 1,500 lynx here). The law bans hunting them, although lynx trophies are as valuable as those of bears and wolves, especially the fur, which is worth 173.37 CIC points5. Also, lynx claws and teeth used to be trophies6, but with the ban, they are becoming increasingly rare. Even a sighting is an exceptional event indeed for hikers, because the lynx' preferred woods are too dark, too mysterious, and too terrifying. Compiled and translated by Monica Voiculescu SOURCES1. "The Legend of the Lynx," Alex Duma, "The Carpathian Lynx," Romania libera daily, May 8, 2008.3. "The Forest Universe," 4. October, 2006, 6. Ibid 2.

by Monica Voiculescu