The Scottish wildcat is going extinct: an irreplaceable feature of our natural and cultural heritage, and our only surviving native feline, it has survived centuries of intense deforestation and persecution. It is losing the battle to hybridisation: cross-mating with feral domestic cats, which outnumber wildcats by 1000:1 across the Highlands.
There may only be 35 pure Scottish wildcats left, which face an impossible task finding each other to produce the next generation. There are over 1,000 giant pandas in the world, 3,000 tigers, 20,000 polar bears: our wildcats need immediate help, and Wildcat Haven is delivering it:
250 square miles of remote habitat and expanding
All feral cats and low-grade hybrids neutered
All pet cats neutered and inoculated
Free of feline diseases
Protected by geography and a feral cat buffer zone
Ongoing genetics, disease and habitat research
Widely supported by the local community
Local schools education programs underway
We're close to this sign becoming a reality...
Over the last ten years statutory agencies have spent half a million pounds of public money talking about saving the wildcat, whilst over the last five years Wildcat Haven has spent less than £100,000 of grants and donations from the US, China, commercial sponsors and the international general public creating a vast, threat-free haven where the Scottish wildcat can thrive again.
This is the only chance that the pure wildcat has, and over the next five years we will expand to over 800 square miles and start bringing the true wildcat back.
These cats matter: evolved by nature for millions of years to fit perfectly into our ecology, we are losing them to apathy, indecision and irresponsible ownership of pet cats: a species that heavily over-populates putting intense pressure on native species and greatly damaging the environment.
Wildcat Haven isn't an idea, a discussion, or eternal research which never gets applied in the field; it is the only comprehensive, active and successful conservation effort for the genetically pure Scottish wildcat; we aren't seeking the best route for conserving the wildcat, we're already taking it.
16/06/2015 2014/2015 Fieldwork Results
Having confirmed the complete neutering and inoculation of pet and feral cat populations across 200 square miles last year, this year's fieldwork was unfortunately limited by unusually mild weather; live trapping is a critical component of the project and wild-living cats tend not to take the bait when there is plenty of less suspicious food and shelter around.
When colder weather arrived work was quickly rolled out establishing surveys at several new locations seeking to expand onto the Morvern peninsula next door to Ardnamurchan, and considering a "Wildcat Haven 2" site elsewhere in the West Highlands. The current Haven was confirmed to still be free of intact feral cats and both the border and buffer zone were expanded taking the total land area to almost 300 square miles.
Hoping for a longer fieldwork period next winter additional funding has been sought to push the Haven across Morvern, connecting to Ardnamurchan via Sunart creating a 500-600 square mile area within the next two years. Work is expected to finish shortly on the genetics test we have been verifying over the last five years, allowing us to confirm the precise status of a small number of "possible wildcats" identified within the Haven region.
02/04/2015 Media Coverage: BBC "Scottish wildcat captive breeding plan defended"
A leaked set of SNH minutes reveals plans to establish a new captive breeding population from wild caught wildcats, raising concerns that this could extinct the animal in the wild and conflict with the Wildcat Haven fieldwork by removing wildcats from the only place in the wild where they cannot hybridise. Welfare charity CAPS released the news endorsing the Haven model in the process. As quoted in the article, we do not support plans to take wild wildcats into captivity, which goes against IUCN recommendations for the species due to the high failure rate of European wildcat reintroductions, especially in light of results from the Haven project; we believe the wildcat can best be saved in the wild.