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Environment Secretary champions wildcats

Published: 23 Dec 2016 00:01

Roseanna Cunningham backs important preservation work of Scottish Wildcat Action.

Felis silvestris silvestris, more commonly known as the Scottish wildcat, is an iconic national species. Sadly, this magnificent animal is one of our most endangered mammals and urgent action is needed to ensure they have a future.

To support the preservation work being undertaken by Scottish Wildcat Action, a coalition of over 20 partners in the conservation, scientific and land management communities, Cabinet Secretary for Environment Roseanna Cunningham is adopting a wildcat. She said:

“I’ve seen first-hand the efforts of those at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), having recently visited the off-show breeding enclosures at RZSS Highland Wildlife Park. They’ve already had success, with 71 wildcat kittens being born at the Park over the past few decades as part of a long-term breeding programme. But with fewer than 300 wildcats thought to exist in the wild, there is still so much to be done.

“Thankfully there are many skilled and passionate people who are working extremely hard to keep this Highland tiger on our hillsides and in our glens. Crucial work to aid the species’ survival is set out in the Scottish Wildcat Conservation Action Plan. Within the plan, the focus is on two areas; to breed pure wildcats for release and to maintain and preserve wildcat priority areas for example with the Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate and Return initiative, which is limiting the number of feral cats interbreeding with wildcats.

“It is in support of this work that I have chosen to adopt a wildcat myself and would encourage others to consider doing so too. Staff at Scottish Natural Heritage lead the wildcat priority areas programme and they’ve identified Morvern, Strathbogie, Strathavon, Northern Strathspey, Strathpeffer and the Angus Glens as the areas we really need to focus on to preserve these animals in the wild. The App launched earlier this year allows people in these areas to log any sightings of potential wildcats and feral cats – an excellent example of new technology helping this conservation work.”

Background

More than 20 organisations are involved in supporting Scottish Wildcat Action. The partnership is also bolstered by a significant number of Scots volunteering their time to checking camera traps or helping with TNVR in locations around the country. For more details on who is involved:  http://www.scottishwildcataction.org/about-us/#partners

To support the continuation of this important work, details on wildcat adoption are available here: www.scottishwildcataction.org/how-you-can-help#donate

Audio clip for use on radio available at: https://audioboom.com/posts/5423680-environment-secretary-champions-wildcats