Report from Chris Smith
HOPE is fading for the well-being of a lynx missing from a Kirkcudbright wildlife park.
Concern is growing for the safety of the lynx, which has been missing from Galloway Wildlife Conservation Park for 10 days.
Measures put in place to capture the animal, which is about the size of a labrador dog, have produced nothing and there have been no sightings since Monday.
Humane traps have been placed in Barrhill woods where the lynx has been seen by members of the public.
BY LEE KERR
The most recent sighting of the lynx, which is fawn in colour with black tufts at its ears, was in a back garden in Barrhill Avenue on Monday. When police arrived the animal was gone.
Park owner, John Denerley, said he was very concerned about the lynx and was losing hope.
The lynx also has a sister at the park who is said to be pining for her sibling.
He said: "We have been checking the traps daily and we are feeling quite unhopeful that the lynx will survive much longer in the wild."
The big cat, which is an African Caracal Lynx, is a non-native species with a thin coat more suited to exotic warm places.
John said he was doubtful she would know how to live in the wild and how to search for warm places to survive.
ŇI donŐt think she could cope with this cold weather if she is not found soon. She was born into captivity so she would not know how to catch prey in the wild.
"We also have a sister here who is pining for her to return and we would really like to see them back together again."
The two are both on a breeding loan as a part of the conservation programme at the wildlife park.
Researchers from the Scottish Big Cats group have also expressed their concern about the big catŐs ability to survive in the wild.
Dr John Murray, scientific officer, said: "The wild lynx is a very efficient predator and a wild reared lynx would have little difficulty in surviving in this region, given the abundance of wild game. However, this animal is captive reared and much less likely to have developed the level of hunting skills it would require in the wild - as such it may well starve quite quickly."
Dr Christina Smith, publications officer, said the lynx would pose no danger to people unless provoked.
She said: "There is no report of any spontaneous attack of a lynx; even females pushed away from their litters do not defend their cubs. They will, however, attack dogs approaching the kittens, even if the dog is accompanied by people."
She stressed the message should be that big cats can be dangerous, but only in the way that a strange dog can be: unless provoked they are extremely unlikely to attack or harm a human.
Anyone spotting the animal should contact Kirkcudbright Police station on (01557) 330600 or the wildlife park itself.
Galloway News, 9 th December 2002
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