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Rare lynx sightings in northern Italy excite naturalists

Two rare sightings of a lynx in the autonomous northern Italian province of Trentino in August and September have cheered nature lovers, who had feared for its survival.

Rare lynx sightings in northern Italy excite naturalists
The Eurasian lynx. Photo: dogrando/Flickr

The elusive wild cat, named B-132, was first sighted approximately ten years ago and is believed to be the only member of its species alive in the province today, reports La Stampa.

Lynxes, which can coexist peacefully with humans, were a common sight in Italy up until the late 19th century, when they were driven from the country by hunters as they were considered a threat to livestock – a fate also met by other large carnivores including bears and wolves.

Recent conservation efforts have aimed at reintroducing bears into the area, and Trentino is now home to approximately 50 wild bears.

But no such projects have been attempted in Italy with wolves, which are believed to naturally return to their original habitats in pursuit of prey if the environmental conditions are right, and lynxes, which feed on hares, foxes, deer, and mice.

As well as having been spotted in Trentino and the neighbouring northern regions of Friuli Venezia Giulia and Piedmont in recent years, lynxes have also been seen in the Apennines, a mountain range that runs the length of Italy from Liguria to Calabria, and, strangely, in the central eastern region of Abruzzo.

It is not known whether the specimens recently spotted in more central areas of the country made their way down from the Alps by themselves, were illegally reintroduced, or were never driven from the region in the first place and simply remained there undetected for decades.

Italy’s lynx population is currently estimated to be at several hundred, but there are no official estimates as their solitary nature and tendency to hunt only at night makes them hard to track for research purposes.

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TRAVEL

You might soon need a ticket to visit one of Italy’s most beautiful beaches

A town in Sardinia is considering selling entry tickets to the famed La Pelosa beach as a way to limit visitor numbers and raise funds.

You might soon need a ticket to visit one of Italy's most beautiful beaches
Holidaymakers on La Pelosa beach, one of Sardinia's most famous. Photo: DepositPhotos

Fine white sand and turquoise waters have made La Pelosa, in the town of Stintino on the north-west tip of Sardinia, one of the island's most popular beaches – but authorities have long struggled to protect its natural charms from the thousands of holidaymakers who flock to it each day in summertime.

Now local mayor Antonio Diana is planning the most radical measure yet: a limit on visitors, enforced by means of a paid entry ticket.

After environmental impact studies warned of the potential damage overcrowding could do to La Pelosa, authorities will try capping visitor numbers at around 1,500 per day in summer 2020, Diana told a meeting of the local council last weekend.

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“It will be an experiment,” according to the mayor, who said that the entry fee would help pay for the supervision and maintenance of the beach.

“The ticket will allow us to cover costs at La Pelosa and put the rest of the proceeds towards cleaning and maintaining other beaches. I'm convinced we'll get a good result,” said councillor for tourism Francesca Demontis.

The council has previously tried banning towels and beach bags as a means to stop beachgoers picking up La Pelosa's pristine sand – accidentally or otherwise – and taking it home with them. It also plans to remove the paved road that leads to the beach to make it harder to access by car. 

While some locals have criticized the restrictions on what remains a public beach, the mayor insists that protecting the fragile coastline must come first.


La Pelosa attracts thousands of beachgoers each day at the height of summer. Photo: DepositPhotos

Sardinia sees several tonnes of sand, shells and stones disappear from its picture-perfect beaches every year, whether caught in damp towels or deliberately stolen as a souvenir. Stealing the island's protected natural resources is punishable by a fine of up to €3,000 and even prison time, and customs agents systematically search departing travellers' luggage for smuggled sand.

Stintino isn't the only tourist hotspot in Italy seeking to regulate the crowds. Venice has announced plans to introduce an entry fee for day-trippers from July, while authorities in the Cinque Terre are pushing train companies to help them limit the number of people who can pack into the coastal villages at once.

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