“El gato”: getting familiar with the Iberian Lynx
Naturalists who study the Iberian lynx often call it simply “el gato” (“the cat”). At first it surprised me to hear it called that way, and it even sounded a bit like it took the mistery away from such an impressive creature. But as you spend more time observing the lynx behaving naturally in its habitat it strikes you how similar it is to your house cat in so many of its gestures and reactions.
In 2013 we observed this male lynx courting a beautiful female which was not yet ready for mating and made its rejection perfectly clear. After walking around her for a while he just sat and looked away with that expression all cat owners have seen, and which seems to say: “what should I do next? Most definitely, not hurry. It would be indignant for a cat to appear to be in a hurry!”
I tried to quickly capture the essence of that moment with my pencil. As always, I try to define the general shapes in 5 minutes or so. It is especially important to focus your attention on the general masses of the head, shoulders and legs rather than being distracted by coat patterns. The markings of the iberian lynx are so striking that it takes some concentration to perceive the animal´s real volumes underneath.
It takes time to get familiar with the shape of this very special cat. I will be exploring some less obvious aspects of its structure and natural history in upcoming posts. Stay tuned!