scottish wildcat

Scottish wildcatA 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.scottish wildcat
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.”Scottish Wildcat (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 tTiger of the Highlandshe 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 Scottish wildcatcaptive 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 scottish wildcat“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.

2 Responses to scottish wildcat

  1. steve says:

    Yes! nice summary chris! Thank you molly! I did not know a wildcat could survive human evolvement in northern Europe!

  2. Chris says:

    Thanks, Molly, for your article on the fabulous Scottish Wildcats. The more people that know about this endangered species, the better chance it will have of survival. Their future is in the hands of the human race – we must all learn to respect and care for Mother Nature and think less of financial gain and “progress” if they are to survive.

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