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Scottish Wildcats

Scottish Wildcats

Most of us yearn to catch a glimpse of the glorious Scottish wildcat, yet never do. If we don’t act immediately, we never will. The Highland tiger is teetering on the edge of extinction.

RZSS has been involved with wildcat conservation for over 10 years and continues to play a critical role in long term recovery efforts for this species. We believe it is vital that we protect our last remaining native cat species in Britain. It is one of the few British native predators left and performs an important ecosystem function. The wildcat has also long been part of our cultural heritage in Scotland, with many clan crests featuring this iconic felid.

Scottish Wildcat Action

RZSS was a key partner in Scottish Wildcat Action, the first national project to save the critically endangered Scottish wildcat from extinction (following on from the successful Highland Tiger project, which RZSS was also a partner in). The project was funded by Scottish Government and Heritage Lottery Fund, as well as its 22 partners in the conservation, scientific and land management communities. The project delivered conservation action, research and education across five priority areas and has been pivotal in developing Scottish wildcat awareness and support in Scotland.  In tandem, our RZSS Wildgenes team also lead the genetic research on Scottish wildcats. This research showed that most wildcats out in the wild are actually hybrids with domestic cats and the main source of purebred wildcats in the UK is now the captive population.

Saving Wildcats

Following the collection of extensive field data during the Scottish Wildcat project and an independent review from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Cat Specialist Group (IUCN CSG), the wild wildcat population in Scotland was (in 2019) designated as non-viable. This meant that without recovery action via reintroduction or reinforcement, the extinction of wildcats in Scotland, and thus the UK, was inevitable.  

At the end of 2019, RZSS secured a funding grant from the European Union LIFE programme to deliver a wildcat recovery project, Saving Wildcats. This European partnership project includes Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry and Land Scotland, Cairngorms National Park Authority, Nordens Ark (Sweden) and Junta de Andalucia (Spain). Saving Wildcats is a multi million pound project that includes the development of the UK’s first dedicated wildcat conservation breeding for release centre and aims to secure the future of wildcats through wildcat reintroductions.   

Working together with the project partnership, the UK’s captive breeding holders for wildcats and international specialists in species recovery, Saving Wildcats is the greatest hope for wildcats in Scotland.

Can you save the Highland Tiger?

Without your support, we cannot secure a future for the beautiful Highland Tiger with its startling green eyes. Without your support, we could easily be the generation that witnesses yet another extinction. Without you, this symbol of wild beauty will be but a memory.

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