Issue Date: 21 April 2021
Designer: Bożydar Grozdew
Sheet Composition: 9 stamps
Size: 51 x 39,5 mm
Printing Method: Offset lithography
Printer: Polish Security Printing House (PWPW s.a.)
Quantity: 171,000 stamps
The Polish word “RYŚ” (lat. Lynx lynx) is a proto-Slavic expression meaning “FAST”, featuring the unique endangered wild animal. Now, merely 123 individuals of the Eurasian lynx live in Poland, mainly in isolated large forest complexes of the Carpathians and wilderness forests of eastern Poland, like the Białowieża Forest and the Augustów Forest. The reintroduction of lynxes begun as part of the project “Return of the lynx to north-west Poland” in 2019. The design of the Polish stamp EUROPA 2021 symbolically refers to numerous threats of the modern world for the survival of the animal.
The Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) is a medium-sized wild cat widely spread throughout Eurasia, in Northern, Central and Eastern Europe to Central Asia and Siberia, the Tibetan Plateau and the Himalayas. It inhabits temperate and boreal forests up to an elevation of 5,500 m (18,000 ft). Despite its wide distribution, it is threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching and depletion of prey. Conservation efforts have been made through the extensive illegalization of lynx hunting across the territories where the species is observed.
The Eurasian lynx has a relatively short, reddish or brown coat, which tends to be more brightly coloured in animals living at the southern end of its range. In winter, however, this is replaced by a much thicker coat of silky fur that varies from silver-grey to greyish brown. The underparts of the animal, including the neck and chin, are white at all times of the year. The fur is almost always marked with black spots, although the number and pattern of these are highly variable.
Some animals do also possess dark brown stripes on the forehead and back. Although spots tend to be more numerous in animals from southern populations, Eurasian lynx with heavily spotted fur may exist close to others with plain fur. It has powerful, relatively long legs, with large webbed and furred paws that act like snowshoes. It does also possess a short “bobbed” tail with an all-black tip, black tufts of hair on its ears, and a long grey-and-white ruff. It is the largest of the four lynx species, ranging in length from 80 to 130 cm (31 to 51 in) and standing 60–75 cm (24–30 in) at the shoulder. The tail measures 11 to 24.5 cm (4.3 to 9.6 in) in length.
On average, males weigh 21.6 kg (48 lb) and females weigh 18.1 kg (40 lb). Male lynxes from Siberia, where the species reaches the largest body size, can weigh up to 38 kg (84 lb) or reportedly even 45 kg (99 lb). The race from the Carpathian Mountains can also grow quite large and rival those from Siberia in body mass in some cases.
The Eurasian lynx inhabits rugged country providing plenty of hideouts and stalking opportunities. Depending on the locality, this may include rocky-steppe, mixed forest-steppe, boreal forest, and montane forest ecosystems. In the more mountainous parts of its range, Eurasian lynx descends to the lowlands in winter, following prey species and avoiding deep snow. It tends to be less common where the grey wolf (Canis lupus) is abundant, and wolves have been reported to attack and even eat lynx.
The Eurasian lynx was once widespread throughout most of continental Europe. By the early 19th century, it was persecuted to local extinction in western and southern European lowlands, but survived only in mountainous areas and Scandinavian forests. By the 1950s, it had become extinct in most of Western and Central Europe, where only scattered and isolated populations exist today.
In its Environment and Environmental Protection Section, the 2011 Central Statistical Office Report puts the number of Eurasian lynxes observed in the wild in Poland as of 2010 at approximately 285. There are two major populations of lynxes in Poland, one in the northeastern part of the country (most notably in the Białowieża Forest) and the other in the southeastern part in the Carpathian Mountains. Since the 1980s, lynxes have also been spotted in the region of Roztocze, Solska Forest, Polesie Lubelskie, and Karkonosze Mountains, though they still remain rare in those areas. A successfully reintroduced population of lynxes has also been living in the Kampinos National Park since the 1990s.