Cat news: Rare Scottish wildcat sent to rewilding centre to save species | Nature | News
A young female wildcat named Nell is the first of 16 cats being prepared for life in the wild. Experts hope to be able to free the cats from captivity in 2022. Nell was selected from the Alladale Wilderness Reserve earlier this month and has now settled at the breeding center for the release of Saving Wildcats. The conservation center is located in the Highland Wildlife Park of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) in the Scottish Highlands.
The recovery center provides hatchery, veterinary care, remote monitoring and training to prepare cats for life in the wild.
It is hoped that all kittens born in Nell will become the first wild cats to be released into the Highlands next year as part of the Scottish Species Restoration Project.
Formerly known as the tigers of the highlands, it is believed that fewer than 35 wild cats live in the wild today. The loss, tracking, and breeding of domestic cat habitats have put wild cats at risk of extinction.
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David Barclay, Saving Wildcats Ex situ Conservation Manager, said, “Saving Wildcats is an incredibly exciting partnership that brings together the resources and expertise necessary to save Scotland’s legendary wildcat.
“Nell is the first cat to be introduced to our release breeding center at Highland Wildlife Park, and she has adjusted well to her new environment.
“Another 15 cats will arrive at the center in the coming weeks, giving us a healthy, genetically diverse population to breed from.
Like many cats, wild cats hunt small animals for food such as rodents, birds, amphibians, and insects.
The wildcat has a long history in Scottish culture and mythology and has been celebrated by many of the Highland clans who used the wildcat in their coats of arms.
Saving Wildcats describes the cats as “one of the most well-known species of Scotland that embodies wild nature for the Scottish Highlands.
For more information on how to save wild cats, see here.