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Last Updated: Tuesday April 08 2008 10:52 GMT

Rare lynx spotted in Italian Alps

A lynx

A lynx has appeared in the Italian Alps for the first time in 100 years.

The mountain cats used to be a regular sight in the Alps until they were wiped out in the region by hunters and farmers in the early 20th Century.

But now one's appeared in Italy's South Tyrol region after crossing the mountains from Switzerland, where the cats were reintroduced in the 1970s.

The lynx was tracked after being fitted with a signalling collar when it was captured in Switzerland in February.

Forestry officials said the lynx had wandered through the Pejo Valley before stopping in the Deutschnonsberg area of South Tyrol.

According to the global conservation organisation WWF there are about 100 lynx in Switzerland in the north-western Alps and Jura Mountains, near Lake Geneva.

Lynx like to hunt alone, living in high-altitude forests and preying on small mammals such as hares, foxes and small deer as well as fish.