A few days ago I read that there are now fewer than 400 Scottish wildcats remaining in the…er…wild.
In 1984 I was back-packing round the Inner and Outer Hebrides and I was very fortunate to see a Scottish wildcat in its natural habitat in the remote northernmost part of the Isle Of Skye. It is a sight I have never forgotten. I was cycling to the north of the island to catch a Caledonian MacBrayne ferry from Uig across to North Uist when I turned a corner on a lonely stretch of road and a Scottish wildcat ran across my path – about thirty feet ahead of me. It was too big to be a domestic cat (or a cross-breed of a wildcat with a domestic cat). It was sandy brown in colour and had distinctive stripy racoon-like markings on its tail. It looked at me momentarily – perplexed and non-plussed – and then shot away extremely rapidly into some undergrowth.
I count myself very lucky to have seen such a fantastic creature. I only hope mine is not one of the last sightings of this noble animal – and that the small band of conservationists working extremely diligently against the odds can somehow ensure its survival for future generations.
Wildcats have lived in Britain for some 2 million years, outlasting mammoth, lynx, bear and wolf. The Scottish wildcat is Britain’s rarest mammal – and one of the rarest cats in the world.
An organisation well worth supporting – and a website worth exploring – is that of the Scottish Wildcat Association. (Just click the link in the image above or see the link at the foot of this page). The Association is an organisation with charitable status that is doing sterling work in an attempt to preserve this unique species against all odds – including promoting and managing a captive breeding programme.
In addition, the talented filmmaker, Steve Piper of Coffee Films has made a movie all about the Scottish wildcat and its fight for survival – Last Of The Scottish Wildcats. Half of all the profits from sales of the DVD will go directly to the Scottish Wildcat Association. A trailer can be seen on the websites of both the SWA and Coffee Films. (Click the link on the image above – or see the Coffee Films link at the foot of this page for further information). I certainly know what I will be buying myself and my Scottish friends this Christmas! Let us hope the fight to save the Scottish wildcat is one we can win.