Coauthor: Irina Rotenko
In Naliboki Forest, the central-western part of Belarus we (Naust Eco Station and Wild Naliboki) have documented by camera-traps that a mother lynx, having own kitten, has adopted another kitten, which mother has died. Actually, the story was as following.
These two mother lynxes lived at the distance about 4-6 km between their main areas, which they inhabited. Sometimes, they were registered at the shorter distance of about 2 km only. In the late November 2019 each mother had a male kitten. We called one mother as Pliamistaja, another as Aurelia, and they were easily recognizable with their distinctive spot patterns. The male kitten of Pliamistaja was markedly bigger than one of Aurelja.
In the first half of December 2019 Pliamistaja died, and her kitten appeared alone. A month or even a bit longer this male kitten roamed in the area of about 2 square km, where his mother died. To survive the lone kitten caught rodents and scavenged for carrion from kills of the local wolf pack. Actually the pack was not a strong one and consisted of two wolves and two not big wolf-dog hybrids.
In the late January 2020 the kitten of Pliamistaja began walking in the main housing area of Aurelja. The housing area has a two hectares of dense treefall in the center. At first, the kitten of Pliamistaja stayed 5-7 days in the close proximity to the treefall, then it entered the treefall and was registered there either more or less the same time nearby Aurelja and her kitten by different cameras or together with Aurelja’s kitten by the same camera. Also, in February on muddy forestry roads or on little snow in the housing area of Aurelja we registered three trail tracks of lynxes that suggested Aurelja with two kittens walked altogether.
Since both own kitten and (or) adopted kitten stayed with Aurelja. Not everything was peaceful in their life. Bigger adopted kitten suppressed smaller kitten of Aurelja. For several times we documented that Aurelja’s kitten roamed alone, while at the same time Aurelja was followed by the adopted kitten. In the most of registrations just the adopted kitten was following Aurelja. When Aurelja was walking alone the trail of her own kitten and was tailed after by the adopted kitten it guarded against her to approach sometimes.