A Close Look at the Iberian Lynx
The Iberian lynx is a creature of superlatives. It is the largest cat species in Spain and arguably the most beautiful, and certainly the most endangered cat species in the world. Just a few years ago it was within an inch of extinction, and many of us feared there was no real hope for it. Now it is clearly making a comeback, but there is an urgent need of renewed efforts for its conservation. The rabbit populations in key lynx habitats are suffering from devastating diseases, and not enough is being done to restore them, leaving the cat struggling for food. Meanwhile, too many lynxes are being hit by cars in roads which should have long been adapted to the presence of the cat; and of the few individuals that have been released in selected places of their former distribution areas, too many are being killed by illegal “vermin” control activities. The lynx has shown it has the potential to regain its place in the Iberian wilderness, so it is our turn to show we can do our part of the deal.
Just like the African big cats (and after generations of not being shot on sight like vermin), the Iberian lynx shows a royal indifference to human observers. Such behaviour may allow excellent observation once you are lucky enough to come across the cat.
One such encounter earlier this year gave me an unprecedented look at this amazing predator. And perhaps the most incredible thing is the look in its eyes. I am always amazed at the look of lions, leopards and cheetahs, but the eyes of the lynx look almost too big, too intense. As the animal sits or walks in front of you, its gaze is almost always directed elsewhere, but if it crosses your own for a second, I promise it will give you the goosebumps! To capture its essence with your pencil is a very special challenge.
There is more to come about the Iberian lynx, an animal full of mystery and beauty!