Press and news about Scottish wildcats


Visit the Wildcat Haven project website Learn all about the Scottish wildcat Report a sighting of a wildcat The Scottish Wildcat Association is now Wildcat Haven

Scottish wildcat news and press coverage...

Below you can find links to key Scottish wildcat press coverage reaching back to 1998, along with brief notes on factual inaccuracies and context with each link. This is by no means an exhaustive archive of every wildcat story, just those featuring the major events and key players in the modern conservation effort.


2015

Lots happening lately, and tricky to keep up with. At the end of 2014 SNH announced that 6 months of research across six areas of the Highlands revealed no wildcats, leading to them naming those six areas priorities for wildcat conservation. Much of this research was based on a genetics test from RZSS. RZSS have been criticised for knowingly breeding and marketing hybridised wildcats as the real thing only to neuter them a short while later, and defended their actions based on the same genetics test.

A scientist came forward from the SNH Action Plan stating; "How can they designate an area for wildcat preservation that doesn't actually have traces of any wildcats? How can they claim it is a national survey when vast tracts of the western Highlands were not included? SNH are hiding behind genetics tests which I believe not to be valid as they are based on a small population of European wildcats in Switzerland and none are from pure Scottish wildcats. They have knowingly been breeding a lot of hybrids and then neutering them."

Moving into 2015 the independent Wildcat Haven effort announced further successes expanding their feral cat free zone with more neutering of feral and pet cats, stating that their own genetics test was close to complete after five years of field verification using only Scottish wildcat DNA.

Further controversy appeared around the SNH/RZSS action plan as they attempted a rebrand ("Scottish Wildcat Action") and shuffled around the public facing officers. Welfare group CAPS received a leaked set of minutes from an action plan meeting outlining plans to build a new captive breeding population by drawing animals from the wild, potentially extincting the wildcat in the wild in the process. Endorsing the Haven action plan as the way forward CAPS, Haven and an independent expert spoke out strongly against the SNH plans, particularly as SNH had already announced a priority action zone within the Haven working area; potentially removing pure wildcats from the one safe place they have in the wild.

02/04/2015 CAPS
'UK zoos in controversy as plot to cage endangered Scottish wildcats is exposed'
Full content of the CAPS press release.

02/04/2015 BBC
'Scottish wildcat captive breeding plan defended'
Reporting on the CAPS information leak and SNH plans to take wild living wildcats into captivity at RZSS' Edinburgh Zoo and Highland Wildlife Park.

20/02/2015 BBC
'Neutering clinics for pets to aid Scottish wildcats'
More on the pet cat neutering clinics in Wildcat Haven.

19/02/2015 Lochaber News
'Clinics to offer free neutering to save Scottish wildcats'
Haven reaches even further across the Lochaber region announcing free pet cat neutering clinics in Moidart.

06/02/2015 BBC
'Scottish wildcat safe haven expanding into Morvern'
Coverage of Wildcat Haven plans to double the size of the Haven to over 500 square miles with their successful feral cat neutering programs.

06/02/2015 Scotsman
'Scottish wildcat sanctuary to double in size'
More on Wildcat Haven expansion.

05/02/2015 Lochaber News
'Lochaber haven for rare Scottish wildcat to double in size'
A more detailed and local piece of coverage on the Haven expansion plans, which are gaining incredible local community support.


2014

14/12/2014 BBC
'Wildcat conservation project given almost £1m'
SNH announce that the Lottery has awarded their wildcat action plan with almost £1m, unfortunately, Lottery money can only be used to directly benefit the general public and as such none of this money can be used for things like scientific research or neutering feral cats, what it can be used for is PR; and with SNH moving towards defining wildcats by an extremely relaxed pelage criteria this means marketing a redefined wildcat to the people of Scotland, whitewashing the imminent extinction of the genetically pure form.

23/11/2014 Guardian/Observer
'Why the Scottish wildcat is threatened by its saviour'
Strong piece from the Guardian raising issue with SNH's continued approach to wildcat conservation following a run of conflicting stories on what's going on at present. An interesting quote in here includes internal criticism of the RZSS genetics test that was recently used to legitimise captive breeding efforts, so does the test work or not?

12/11/2014 Scotsman
'Experts fear Scottish wildcat may be extinct'
Interesting reading between the lines by the Scotsman, following an SNH press release naming six areas as priority wildcat conservation areas having carried out genetics research showing that no wildcats existed there, some fine logic there.

07/10/2014 Herald
'Rare zoo wildcats not quite as rare as visitors may think'
Leaks reveal that most of the wildcats bred and marketed at RZSS' Highland Wildlife Park have since been neutered as hybrids draws concern from conservationists and welfare groups, RZSS legitimise their work with talk of a genetics test, which is commented on in the 23/11 Guardian piece by a scientist working alongside RZSS; "SNH are hiding behind genetics tests which I believe not to be valid as they are based on a small population of European wildcats in Switzerland and none are from pure Scottish wildcats."

24/07/2014 Scotsman
'This is the last chance for the Scottish wildcat'
More on the Wildcat Haven news.

23/07/2014 BBC
Safety claws: How do you make a Scottish wildcat haven?
A very summarised Wildcat Haven action plan summary!

15/07/2014 BBC
Scottish wildcat 'safe haven' set up in Ardnamurchan
More on the Wildcat Haven news.

15/07/2014 Press and Journal
New hope for future of Highland wildcat
More on the Wildcat Haven news.

15/07/201 Herald
Haven to save the wildcat from total extinction
Phenomenal 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.


2013

11/12/2013 BBC
Conservation concerns for extinct wolves in Scotland
SNH commissioned public survey places the wildcat third as the species people in Scotland are most concerned about from a conservation point of view.

21/10/2013 BBC
Breeding hope for wildcat kittens at Highland Wildlife Park
RZSS runs it's annual claim that new kittens will save the species, even though they're hybrids.

28/09/2013 Guardian
Extinction by stealth: how long can the Scottish wildcat survive?
Scottish Natural Heritage launch their wildcat action plan drawing criticism from 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."

28/09/2013 Guardian
How Spain saved the lynx
Criticism of SNH efforts to conserve the wildcat compared against efforts with the Iberian lynx.

24/09/2013 BBC
Lottery funding for new effort to save Scottish wildcats
SNH announce their new action plan and almost £1m of Lottery funding awarded to it, in fact, the Lottery has awarded the plan £30k to fund drawing up a full application, no money at all has been awarded for conservation work, the Scottish Wildcat Association (SWA) announce they have left the action plan project which is nothing more than "PR fluff".

24/09/2013 Herald
Scottish wildcat plan 'will not save animal'
More on SWA response to SNH action plan.

24/09/2013 Wildlife Extra
Plan launched to save Scotland's wildcats
More on SWA response to SNH action plan with full text of SWA response.

22/09/2013 Sunday Times
Casino king's last roll of the dice to save wildcat
Aspinall Foundation announce the Carna breeding project; a plan to set up an in-situ breeding centre on a small island off of the Wildcat Haven project area to be used for breeding and soft releases alongside the project.

02/06/2013 Guardian
Why the lynx effect would send Scotland wild
Criticism of SNH efforts to conserve the Scottish wildcat set against SWA research suggesting only 35 true wildcats remain in Scotland.

21/05/2013 BBC
Scottish wildcat could be extinct 'within two years'
Expert geneticist Dr Paul O'Donoghue, leading efforts to identify wildcats genetically at Chester University, states his belief that the wildcat will be extinct within two years without urgent help.

21/05/2013 Herald
Genetic test can identify purebred Scottish wildcats
More on the Chester genetics.

17/03/2013 Deadline News
Scottish wildcats hit by rabbit shortage as numbers decline
Oxford University release research suggesting importance of stable rabbit populations for Scottish wildcats.


2012

28/12/2012 Independent
'2013 will decide whether the Scottish wildcat lives or dies': Highland tiger on its last legs following persecution by gamekeepers and interbreeding with domestic cats
Overview on the conservation status of the wildcat.

26/09/2012 Scotsman
Wildcats could be released across Scotland under plans to save 'Highland Tiger'
SNH announce plans to start a captive breeding program, even though one already exists and they work directly with one of the main players, RZSS. Unfortunately, none of the captive animals are true wildcats and no one knows where any true wildcats can be found. SWA state their support of establishing of an action planning group suggested by SNH.

16/09/2012 Guardian
Why the Scottish wildcat is staring extinction in the face
The SWA announce that their latest estimates suggest less than 40 true Scottish wildcats still survive.

13/09/2012 BBC
Scottish wildcat extinct within months, association says
The SWA announce that fewer than 35 Scottish wildcats survive in Scotland against SNH estimates of "between 1,000 and 4,000", "less than 400" and "150 breeding pairs", all in the same paragraph; Scottish wildcats do not form lifelong breeding pairs.

13/09/2012 Scotsman
True Scottish wildcats will be wiped out 'in months'
More on the SWA 35 estimate.

13/09/2012 Herald
Wildcats could be extinct in months
More on the SWA 35 estimate.

13/09/2012 Daily Record
Scottish wildcat could become extinct 'at any moment' as population drops to 35
More on the SWA 35 estimate.

13/09/2012 Huffington Post
British Big Cats: Scottish Wildcat 'Could Be Made Extinct At Any Moment'
More on the SWA 35 estimate.

01/09/2012 Herald
National Action Plan Announced to Save Scottish Wildcat
SNH announce intention to develop national action plan running off of Cairngorms Wildcat Project / Highland Tiger, SWA announce their support and desire that everyone move on from "pretending that taking photos of hybrids is somehow saving the wildcat".

31/08/2012 BBC
Scottish wildcat project efforts continue
SNH funded Cairngorms Wildcat Project / Highland Tiger funding ends, the project states there are 150 breeding pairs of wildcats in the Cairngorms and that project efforts would continue; wildcats do not form 'breeding pairs' and efforts have not continued. Project partner RZSS announces intent to research cloning wildcats for the third time in three years, even though it is impossible without genetic material from pure wildcats, and there is little possibility cloned wildlife would ever be allowed to be released into the wild.

29/08/2012 BBC
When is a wildcat really a wildcat?
Dr Paul O'Donoghue at Chester University announces ongoing independent research to identify wildcats using genetics, after discovering previous SNH funded research had accidentally utilised feral cat and hybrid genetic samples instead of wildcat samples.

14/07/2012 Herald
Two newborn wildcat kittens named after new Disney film Brave
The annual RZSS claim that new hybrid kittens are going to save the wildcat.

14/07/2012 Daily Mail
Young, wild and carefree: Endangered new-born wildcats at play under their mother's watchful glare... as UK experts warn of challenge to save the species
More on the hybrid kittens, with overview of the current conservation status.

14/07/2012 Herald
Can Scotland's wildcats be saved from extinction?
Overview of the current situation in Scottish wildcat conservation circles.

25/04/2012 Scotsman
Caught on camera, the Highland tigers no-one knew existed On the prowl, the elusive wildcat is captured by camera trap
SNH funded Cairngorms Wildcat Project / Highland Tiger announces discovering wildcats in Cairngorms, again. Peer review reveals that the project "experts" had identified hundreds of hybrids as wildcats.

24/04/2012 BBC
Camera traps capture new Scottish wildcat sites in the Cairngorms
More on the research of non-wildcats in the Cairngorms.


2011

25/08/2011 BBC
Dolly scientist working on cloning Scottish wildcats
Dolly the sheep researchers say they are cloning wildcats, they are not; it is impossible without genetic samples from a pure Scottish wildcat, and it is unlikely any government would risk introducing cloned animals into the wild. RZSS say they are also planning to clone wildcats, again.

07/03/2011 Scotsman
Outdoors: Wildcat numbers are low but experts are fighting tooth and claw to save the Scottish species
SNH funded Cairngorms Wildcat Project / Highland Tiger discusses their efforts to save the species in the Cairngorms, in spite of no evidence whatsoever of wildcats having been present in the Cairngorms for decades.


2010

18/08/2010 BBC
Cloning technology suggested for Scottish wildcats
RZSS announce they are planning to clone wildcats, even though it is impossible without pure wildcat genetic samples and extremely unlikely cloned animals would ever be released into the wild.

16/07/2010 Scotsman
Rarest of the rare: baby Highland wildcat boosts population of 400
The annual RZSS claim that a new born hybrid kitten will save the species.

20/04/2010 Herald
Scientists launch hi-tech bid to save Scotland's iconic wildcat
Coverage of SNH / Highland Tiger use of "high tech" camera traps, first developed by wildlife photographers and researchers a mere 120 years ago in the late 1880s; now that's what you call cutting edge.

19/04/2010 BBC
Cameras capture secret life of the 'Highland tiger'
SNH funded Cairngorms Wildcat Project / Highland Tiger announce discovering wildcats in the Cairngorms, posting camera trap images of hybridised cats as evidence.

18/04/2010 Guardian
Endangered: are Scotland's wildcats running out of lives?
SNH announce two new reports due later in the month on wildcat distribution and genetics, with overview of SNH funded Cairngorms Wildcat Project / Highland Tiger. These reports were never mentioned again; a series of administrative errors and underfunding meant that both led to inconclusive results and were useless for purpose. The genetics has since been repeated by Chester University, whilst SNH are currently (2014) taking a fifth attempt in a decade at a population and distribution estimate utilising a methodology which has already been peer-reviewed as unsuitable for purpose and verified by the researcher that designed it to do something else entirely as unsuitable for purpose.

06/04/2010 Scotsman
Expats fund bid to save the Scottish wildcat
SWA publicly announce receipt of US funding for their Wildcat Haven fieldwork project in the West Highlands, utilising a neutering methodology to control feral cats, and support of a range of leading international wildcat and feline experts to shape the Haven action plan.


2009

04/05/2009 BBC
New project to protect wildcats
Official launches of Scottish Wildcat Association and SNH funded Cairngorms Wildcat Project / Highland Tiger announced. SWA had already been in operation for about a year planning the Wildcat Haven project whilst awaiting clearances of charity paperwork.

03/05/2009 Scotsman
Zoo launches breeding programme to save wildcats from extinction
Aspinall Foundation announce their plans for wildcat captive breeding which eventually evolved into the Carna project tied into Wildcat Haven.


2008

29/12/2008 BBC
Expert tears into cat conspiracy
SWA chairman Steve Piper argues for appreciation and respect of wildcats and other large predators.

14/04/2008 BBC
Experts join forces in drive to save the Scottish wildcat
SNH, Cairngorms National Park Authority, RZSS and Scottish Gamekeepers Association announce wildcat conference to plan a future for the species and announce what they've already planned to do; the Cairngorms Wildcat Project / Highland Tiger, led by the same groups. SNH are back to claiming there are 3,500 wildcats at this point even though their chief scientist has already said on camera that they accept there are fewer than 400 and RZSS insist their captive wildcats are all pure even though none pass the pelage criteria assessment.

12/03/2008 Scotsman
Shooting & Fishing: Searching for the elusive wildcat
SNH call for wildcat sightings, a call almost entirely ignored, in the end the SWA provided several hundred sightings the general public had reported to them. The data was used by SNH to theorise there may be 2000 wildcats left in the wild, and by the SWA to arrive at a figure of 35.

28/02/2008 Guardian
Country Diary
Overview of SNH funded five year action plan to survey wildcat population, partly referring to the Cairngorms Wildcat Project (a three year public awareness exercise limited to the Cairngorms National Park), and partly to a two year survey so poorly funded by SNH that the end result was inconclusive.

22/02/2008 Telegraph
Scottish wildcat survey to record wild numbers
More on the SNH survey plans.

02/02/2008 Telegraph
Scottish wildcats: Tall tales and tartan tabbies
Report on the film Last of the Scottish Wildcats by SWA chairman Steve Piper, the film includes an interview in which SNH admit numbers are below 400.


2007

02/07/2007 Scotsman
Fresh fears over fate of the Scottish wildcat
BBC filmmaker Fergus Beeley, who first filmed Scottish wildcats in the early 90s, raises concerns that they are disappearing from the wild, the SWA echo his concerns whilst SNH say no one can be certain.


2005

08/04/2005 Scotsman
How to save Scotland's wildcats ... just neuter the family feline
Oxford University state that estimates of 1,000-4,000 wildcats in Scotland are inaccurate, that the number is closer to 400 and current legislation is inadequate to protect them, calling for amendments and immediate widespread neutering of feral cats. Roy Dennis calls for an immediate cull of feral cats, SNH say that they are working on considering everything.

10/03/2005 National Geographic
With Only 400 Left, Wildcat May Be on Its Ninth Life
More on the 400 estimate from Oxford, in research funded by Mammal's Trust UK.


2004

26/04/2004 BBC
Scottish wildcat faces extinction
Mammal's Trust UK funded research by Oxford Uni warns of extinction; this eventually resulted in the 400 estimate of numbers.

26/04/2004 Telegraph
Wildcat risks extinction through cross-breeding
More on the Oxford research.


1998

17/02/1998 Herald
A cat among the pigeons
A remarkable article mentioning the Stonehaven courtcase where an SNH "expert" could not identify whether several cats killed by a gamekeeper were wildcats or not, an SNH research study by the son of said expert claiming wildcats had hybridised into extinction anyway, quotes from an SNH officer insisting these extinct wildcats should be protected anyway and determination from SNH at large that the law would not be altered in any way to ensure said protection of said extinct or not-extinct wildcats. Also claims that SNH research into identifying wildcats through genetics is ongoing, just as they continue to claim today, 16 years later. Don't worry folks, Scotland's natural heritage couldn't be in more competent hands...


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