(CNN)One of the rarest of wildcats, the Balkan lynx has gained an almost mythical reputation. A national symbol of North Macedonia, it appears on the country's five denar coin, but today the species is critically endangered.
Goldman Environmental Prize: Campaigner protecting endangered lynx wins award
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As few as 20 adults still roam the mountains and alpine forests of the south-west Balkans, and the only place they are known to breed is the Mavrovo National Park -- an area famed for its gorges, meadows and dramatic waterfalls, which straddles North Macedonia's border with Albania and Kosovo.
With its habitat coming under increasing threat, Ana Colovic Lesoska spent seven years campaigning against two large hydropower plants planned for the national park.
She launched petitions, went door-to-door stirring up public opposition, and challenged international banks over their involvement.
Today, her work has been recognized by the Goldman Environmental Prize for grassroots activism. Each year, the prize honors six environmental trailblazers -- one from each habitable continent -- who have often taken great personal risks to protect their environment.
Lesoska, 39, brought up in Skopje, North Macedonia, says she endured intimidation and threats to her life during her campaign. She even traveled to the mountains door-knocking to raise awareness while seven months pregnant with her second child.
"If you get scared, then you stop," she told CNN. "I couldn't let it consume me because that would have meant the end of the campaign."