Koktail Insights: The Saving Wildcats Project

Deck: The project is aiming to reintroduce wildcats to various landscapes across Scotland, to be treasured for generations to come

In the wilderness, wildcats once roamed freely. But because of human activity, a serious threat looms—wildcat extinction. Habitat loss and illegal hunting are pushing these creatures to the edge of survival which urges us to come together and help protect protect them.

“The wildcat is one of our rarest and most threatened mammals.”

The Saving Wildcats Project

This is where The Saving Wildcats Project (#SWAforLife) comes in. A  European partnership project dedicated to Scottish wildcat conservation and recovery. Scotland's wildcats are facing an approaching threat of extinction, a consequence of habitat loss, persecution and breeding with domestic cats. Comprehensive scientific studies have made clear that the once-thriving wild-living population is no longer sustainable. Therefore, urgent action is needed to preserve and protect the remaining wildcats, ensuring their continued existence. Building upon the efforts of  the Scottish Wildcat Action and their first national conservation plan for wildcats, Saving Wildcats plans to:

Establish Britain's First Large-Scale Dedicated Conservation ‘Breeding For Release’ Centre

They’re aiming to prevent the extinction of wildcats in Scotland by breeding and releasing them into the wild by building a “breeding for release” centre, the UK’s only large-scale conservation where wildcats will be prepared for life in the wild and then released into the Cairngorms National Park. The centre will bring together wildcat experts, a devoted veterinary unit, and a specialised pre-release training program. Together, they will work to nurture the essential life skills required for wildcats to thrive in their natural habitat.

Grow the Population of Wildcats Through Release

After completing a pre-release training program to prepare for life in the wild, 20 wildcats will be set free annually, possibly in a designated region within the Cairngorms National Park. To monitor their movements and behaviour, all released wildcats will be fitted with a special GPS collar, allowing for accurate recording and observation.

Continue Removing Threats to Wildcats in the Highlands and Creating Safe Zones for Wildcat Reintroductions

In the future, wildcat releases will expand to other regions in Scotland. The centre could also support other well-planned efforts across the UK.

Work with Local Communities to Understand How Best People Can Benefit From the Presence of Wildcats

Saving Wildcats not only focuses on wildcats but also on people, aiming to boost local economies through wildlife tourism and create sustainable long-term employment opportunities.

Be Part of the Journey in Giving the Highland Tiger a Future

If you would like to be a part of saving these beautiful creatures, you can do so by making a donation at savingwildcats.org.uk.

The conservation breeding for release of wildcats is being carried out by the Saving Wildcats partnership (#SWAforLIFE) led by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) in collaboration with NatureScot, Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS), The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA), Norden’s Ark and Consejería de Medio Ambiente y Ordenación del Territorio de la Junta de Andalucía.  

The project is funded with the contribution of the LIFE Programme of the European Union and the generous support of the Garfield Weston Foundation, the National Trust for Scotland, the People’s Trust for Endangered Species and The European Nature Trust.