New action plan to help survival of ‘highland tiger’

AT RISK: The Scottish Wildcat
AT RISK: The Scottish Wildcat

A new action plan to reverse the decline of the Scottish wildcat within six years began last week with backing from the Scottish Government.

The initiative launched by Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse sets out measures that a land managers, conservationists and researchers agree has the best prospect for the ‘Highland Tiger.’

The aim is to conserve Scottish wildcats by reducing the chances of cross breeding with domestic and feral cats and by lowering the risk from feline diseases.

Efforts will be targeted in areas which support the most viable wildcat populations, such as the Cairngorms National Park.

Colin McLean, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “ We hope communities across the country will be inspired and empowered to safeguard the existence of this rare and elusive creature.”

The new plan represents more than £2 million in investment and the organisations responsible for the plan are pursuing funding avenues to ensure sufficient backing throughout the lifetime of the plan.

BBC wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan, backed the scheme, saying: “I have spent time in the Scottish Highlands trying to catch a glimpse of this elusive and fascinating predator, and I would like to add my voice to the chorus saying that we need to do all we can to preserve our native wildcats.”