Sunday 10 March 2019

Scottish wildcat on verge of extinction, report finds

European cats to be released into Highlands in ‘last-ditch effort’ to help save species
Severin Carrell Scotland editor
Wed 27 Feb 2019 11.01 GMTLast modified on Wed 27 Feb 2019 18.00 GMT
Conservationists are planning to release captive European wildcats into the Highlands in a final attempt to save the Scottish wildcat from extinction.
The new measures, described by ecologists as a last-ditch effort to save the species, follow an expert report that confirmed the Scottish wildcat was on the verge of becoming genetically extinct, with as few as 30 left in isolated pockets of the Highlands.
“Based on the available information, we consider the wildcat population in Scotland to be no longer viable,” the report from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), released on Wednesday, stated.
“The number of wildcats is too small, the hybridisation too far advanced and the population too fragmented. We therefore conclude that it is too late to conserve the wildcat in Scotland as a standalone population.”
Conservation sources said the Scottish government had supported work on a captive breeding and release programme from a new wildcat conservation centre being built at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s (RZSS) wildlife park near Kingussie in the Cairngorms.

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