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Poland’s border fence threatens lynxes, researchers say

Bialowieza forest in Poland is the last primeval forest. The trees are lit by the sun.

Researchers suspect that the border fence with Belarus is cutting through Poland’s Bialowieza forest. It is meant to stop migrants crossing the border. This is causing difficulties for the movement and even possible extinction of Bialowieza Lynxes.

Before the construction of the wall, approximately 40 lynxes lived within the dense forest. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Although it is unclear how many lynxes remain on the Polish side, it is possible that there will be a split of the population. The Mammal Research Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences, which monitors forest animal populations, said.


“Lynxes lived along both borders and their populations, which were on each side, functioned as one population. Rafal Kowalczyk, from the institute, stated that the division of the forest into two distinct ecosystems would result in the separation the animal population.

It will impact the reproduction potential, spatial organization of the population, migration and gene flow and could even lead to the extinction of or reintroduction these lynxes over an extended period.

According to the Polish border guard, the fence is not an obstacle for animals. There are 24 gates that allow large animals to move through the fence if they need it. This will allow for continuous migration. They also pointed to a 1980s border on the Belarusian side of the fence that had already affected animals’ movements.


Kowalczyk said that his research showed that lynxes use the fence to cross through Belarus unassisted approximately 50-60 times per annum.

The new barrier was built after European countries accused Belarusian of creating a crisis by illegal immigration. Minsk rejected the accusations.

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