Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Project to save Scottish Wildcat could aid its extinction, says conservation group

The Scottish wildcat is an endangered species. Credit: Adrian Bennett
The Scottish wildcat is an endangered species. Credit: Adrian Bennett

A group committed to safeguarding one of Scotland’s most iconic wild animals has warned a council-backed action plan to save the species could contribute to its extinction.

Aberdeenshire Council’s infrastructure services committee agreed last week to support the work of the Scottish Wildcat Action Project as it tries to save the animal from being wiped out.

Estimates suggest the number of elusive creatures could be as low as 40 in their Highland homelands due to loss of habitat, interbreeding with feral and domestic cats and feline diseases.

Wildcats are found in the Highland border of Aberdeenshire, including the Strathbogie area, Upper Deeside and Donside.

Part of the action plan being delivered by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) through the Scottish Wildcat Action Project includes a conservation breeding programme.

But Wildcat Haven has warned this would take the animals away from their natural environments in the great outdoors – and ultimately contribute to their end.

The group is currently working to establish an area of land in Ardnamurchan, a 50-square-mile peninsula in Lochaber, for the animals to prosper in their natural habitat.

Director of Wildcat Haven, Emily O’Donoghue, said breeding and reintroduction projects in other parts of Europe had a “terrible success rate”.

She warned that backing the plan could “contribute to the extinction of wildcats”.

“The action plan focuses on removing some of the last pure wildcats from the wild and placing them in captivity,” she said.

“Wildcat Haven is completely opposed to this and instead we are working hard to conserve the wildcats where they belong which is in the wild.

“Wildcat Haven has been contacted by a number of Aberdeenshire residents requesting that we help to stop their wildcats being taken into captivity.”

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) – which is leading Scottish Wildcat Action’s breeding programme – said it would be working both in the wild and in the Highland Wildlife Park on the scheme.

Dave Barclay, a cat conservation officer for the RZSS, said: “What makes Scottish Wildcat Action unique is that it is working both in the field and on a complementary conservation breeding for release programme, based at RZSS Highland Wildlife Park.

“The situation facing the Scottish wildcat is so severe that we believe that both approaches are essential to secure the species’ future.

“Examples of conservation breeding and release can be seen across the globe with many species only existing in the wild because of this approach.

“RZSS staff will be working closely with land managers and communities across Scotland to find a small but suitable number of wildcats that will act as the foundation for a robust and viable captive population, suitable for future release.

“These animals will be housed in large-scale, natural enclosures at the Park (and in various partner locations) away from public view, and the cats’ natural, wild behaviours will be encouraged to both increase the chances of breeding success and prepare cats for future release.”

Chairwoman of Scottish Wildcat Action, Eileen Stuart, said she welcomed the council’s backing for their project.

Already a subscriber? Sign in