Strathspey and Badenoch residents are being invited to enter an exciting prize draw when they share their views on cat ownership, local wildcat releases and the Saving Wildcats partnership project in this short survey: savingwildcat.org.uk/communitysurvey
Wildcats, a different species from your domestic pet cats at home, are Britain’s last remaining native wild felid. With their distinctly ringed, blunt, bushy tails, these charismatic animals are Scotland’s very own Highland tigers. Once widespread, the species is now on the brink of extinction in Scotland and decades of experience and research have confirmed we may lose them forever without a carefully managed conservation breeding programme carrying out releases into the wild.
Fortunately, Saving Wildcats was set up to do just that. Based at Highland Wildlife Park, our European partnership project is led by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and dedicated to Scottish wildcat conservation and recovery. Our mission is to prevent the extinction of wildcats in Scotland by breeding and releasing them into the wild. With the support of many people like you, and critical funding from the EU LIFE programme and others, Saving Wildcats has already established Britain’s first dedicated conservation breeding for release centre and paired our first generations of wildcats right here in Kincraig! We plan on releasing the kittens born at our centre into specially selected sites in the Cairngorms National Park from 2023.
Saving a species requires teamwork. Saving Wildcats is the ninth life for wildcats in Scotland and we’re working with national and international experts, vets, zookeepers and scientists to give Scotland’s wildcats the best chance of a future. An important part of our team is you, the local community, and we need your help.
To better understand local interest in our project and build a picture of the potential risk of hybridisation between domestic cats and wildcats in the areas surrounding the potential release sites, our team have written a short survey. Top tip: Pet and feral cats are a domesticated and different species than wildcats. Pet cats are owned by people, whether they are kept inside houses or outside, while feral cats live in the wild and not considered to be owned by anyone.
Strathspey residents should receive a postcard with survey instructions through their door very soon and we’d greatly appreciate as many people as possible answering a few questions about cat ownership and the potential release of wildcats to the area - you do not need to own a cat to complete the survey. To thank you for your time and help to give our wildcats the best possible chance of survival, we’ve put together an exciting prize draw! Look out for the entry instructions at the end of the survey for your chance to win one of several prizes kindly donated to us by local businesses. These include a stay at the Boat Hotel, Highland Wildlife Park tickets, vouchers to Zip Trek Adventure and more!
Help save Scotland’s wildcats by completing the survey at savingwildcats.org.uk/communitysurvey
Saving Wildcats Conservation Project Officer