A symbol of the Scottish Highlands, the last of the Scottish wildcats (felis sylvestris grampia) a mere 400 left in the wild – are never to be confused with the domestic cat nor with feral cats. These are no feral or farm cats run wild. They’re Britain’s only remaining large wild predator and walked the land for millions of years before mankind or domestic cats. Every inch a cat, the Scottish wildcat epitomises the independent, mysterious and wild spirit of the Highlands like no other creature.
Summary history of the magnificent Scottish Wildcat “9000 years ago, at the end of the last ice age glaciation, the English Channel formed and isolated a group of European wildcats in the British Isles. As human led deforestation changed the face of Britain and the species was hunted close to extinction across England, Wales and most of Scotland it evolved beyond its forest led behaviour to be able to hunt over the full range of habitats available to it, and developed a greater mistrust of mankind than any other animal.” (The Scottish Wildcat Association: “The evolution and history of the Scottish wildcat and the felids”). Surviving human persecution or 500 more years than the British wolf and over 1000 more years than the British lynx or bear, they inspired and terrified the same Highland clans living in the Roman and English empires. Today the wildcat has the respect of Highland farmers and gamekeepers, many of whom tell the tale of the wildcat mother that died killing a golden eagle attacking her kittens, or stories from childhood of wildcats evading teams of watching keepers to snatch lambs from their father’s fields. No angry tabby or feral – this wildcat is a genuine wild species of cat, here long before humans and the domestic cat evolved. No angry tabby or feral – this wildcat is a genuine wild species of cat, here long before humans and the domestic cat evolved. Infamously the only wild animal to be completely untameable, even when captive reared, Scottish wildcats may look a little like your pet cat but these are incredibly tough super-predators, often called The Tiger of the Highlands. Sadly, the Scottish wildcat is critically endangered with less than 400 individuals remaining in the wild and barely a handful in the captive breeding population. Domestic cats evolved directly from wildcats. The two species will readily breed producing fertile hybrids. With almost 100,000 feral cats in Scotland, inevitably 400 wildcats are finding it tough to find a pure mate. Over time the wildcat genes are diluting into the domestic genepool until only feral cats are left. In 2006 in the film “Last of the Scottish Wildcats”, it was admitted publicly for the first time that the figure of 400 pure wildcats was most likely accurate. Scottish wildcats are now a priority species for conservation in Scotland. Today, the 400 or so Scottish Wildcats that survive persecution are heavily outnumbered by human introduced feral domestic cats. Recent conservation efforts have been led by scientists, naturalists and the interested public. Support from government and statutory agencies is proving slow and, to date, ineffective.
pish-posh says . . .we begin cutting our wisdom teeth the first time we bite off more than we can chew
- even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth ... "you owe me"
I invite your comments, anecdotes and observations.
save a lifePumpkin is a darling boy. (4 yrs NSW). He’d make an ideal family companion. He’s good with other dogs, cats and loves cuddles. He'd rather be near you, than kept outdoors. Pumpkin has a thick coat, enjoys/needs regular grooming to look his best. To adopt Pumpkin email email@example.com.
irish blessings to all
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acknowledgementmy thanks to google - to find photographs for articles, i google 'subject' and 'copyright free'