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Symbol of Swiss conservation killed in road accident

Efforts have been made to re-introduce the lynx in Switzerland. Pro Natura

A lynx, which was made the star of a campaign to promote the re-introduction of the predators in Switzerland, is dead. Tito was found on the side of a road in the Bernese Oberland.

Tito became a household name after he was given his own website by Switzerland’s leading environmental organisation, Pro Natura. A spokesman said the cat appeared to have been killed by a vehicle on a road between the resorts of Adelboden and Frutigen.

The spokesman said Tito’s death had deeply affected staff at the organisation. He said they had developed a special relationship with the lynx through the campaign.

However, the organisation added that a high rate of mortality was normal among young lynx. It said 50 per cent of the wild cats never made it beyond their first year. Poaching and traffic accidents are the main causes of death.

Tito has repeatedly made the headlines in Switzerland over the past year. Last summer, the federal authorities issued a death sentence for Tito in canton Fribourg, after he attacked and killed several sheep in the region.

But Tito avoided the bullet by emigrating to neighbouring canton Berne, and making a new home for himself in the Oberland. Since the beginning of this year, the two-year-old male has been the symbol of Pro Natura’s campaign to gain wide popular support for the re-introduction of the lynx.

The predators were brought back to Switzerland 30 years ago, but opposition has been growing as their numbers increase and as they spread to new regions. Pro Natura says 40 of the protected species have been killed by hunters or farmers opposed to its presence, five of them this year alone.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR