Scotland's forgotten cat; fewer than 100 remain...
Far back in the history of Scotland, the earliest settlers told legends about wildcats so fierce they bested human champions, and worshipped them as forest spirits. Centuries later, clans formed together under the image of the wildcat and fought wars for the independence of the land. Today, as few as 100 remain in the wild, and the extinction of Britain's last large mammal predator could come within the next few years.
Welcome to the Save the Scottish Wildcat website, a resource on all things wildcat and supporter of the Wildcat Haven fieldwork project to save the species in the West Highlands of Scotland.
No feral or farmcat, the wildcat is a true wild species of cat just like a tiger or leopard; it was here long before we were and long before the domestic cat had first been bred by ancient farmers. Infamously the only wild animal to be untameable, even when captive reared, and one of the most elusive creatures in the world, Scottish wildcats may look a little like your pet tabby but these are incredibly tough super-predators capable of surviving Scotland's harshest winters, battling eagles and drawing the admiration of men who bested entire empires.
Tragically, our magnificent wildcats are critically endangered, and the latest surveys suggest less than 100 individuals survive in the wild. Numbers originally decreased due to deforestation and human persecution, but today the primary threat is cross-mating with feral domestic cats, a process called hybridisation. This gradually waters down the true wildcat genes, leaving behind "hybrids" which look a little like wildcats, but behave very differently.
There is still hope; an independent conservation project set up by the Scottish Wildcat Association in 2008 and now continued under the name Wildcat Haven is working in the West Highlands neutering feral cats, researching feline populations and utilising a unique genetic test that identifies wildcats from hybrids and feral cats. Working closely with local communities, conservation and welfare groups Wildcat Haven is the only comprehensive action plan that can save the Scottish wildcat; please give it your support and follow the project online via Facebook, Twitter and the Wildcat Haven website.
On this website you can learn more about Scottish wildcats, what they are, where they come from, the latest news and the history of the conservation effort; learn about the issues and please help spread the word; the survival of these amazing animals is in our hands.
15/07/201 Herald Haven to save the wildcat from total extinction
Phanomenal news from the Wildcat Haven project hacing neutered all the feral and hybrid cats across almost 250 square miles of remote Highlands peninsula; within a few years the populations will collapse leaving just wildcats behind.
28/09/2013 The Guardian Extinction by stealth: how long can the Scottish wildcat survive?
Scottish Natural Heritage launch their wildcat action plan drawing immediate criticism from other conservationists who insist that the plan is a PR whitewashing exercise that cannot possibly save the species. The three page action plan includes the statement "we are seeking to protect a distinct group of cats that look like wildcats, but may not all be genetically pure wildcats."