Wildcat Haven is a project aimed at protecting and conserving genetically pure Scottish wildcats in the West Highlands of Scotland.

There is extremely limited time left to conserve the pure wildcat in Scotland, which is primarily threatened by hybridisation with, and diseases transmitted from, an abundant domestic feral cat population.

The ultimate aim is to create a haven for wildcats by working hand in hand with landowners and local communities across the 7,000 square miles of the Scottish Highlands west of the Great Glen.

This area is separated from the rest of the Highlands by Loch Ness and Loch Lochy, creating a substantial “inland island” attached to the mainland by a small bottlenecked land bridge, properly protected, this means that feral cats can only migrate into the region with human assistance.

As a result, if the feral cats can be removed then it is possible to protect the wildcats from hybridisation and feline diseases, creating a safe haven where the population can recover.

Over 250 square miles has already been covered, where all of the feral and hybrid cats have been humanely neutered and inoculated by qualified vets. These cats were carefully live trapped along with pure wildcats, with blood samples being taken to further genetics and disease research, and radio collars applied to the wildcats so we can learn about the habitats which they use and depend upon. Afterwards, the cats are released back into the wild where they were caught.

Alongside the fieldwork other projects such as public awareness, education and local community consultation is carried out an on ongoing basis.

This combination of work tells us how threatening hybridisation and diseases are, whilst also reducing their prevalence in the wild, and creating support for the wildcat and the project in the process.

Future developments being looked into include releases of captive bred wildcats and re-foresting to provide ideal habitat, hand in hand with landowners and other stakeholders in the region.

The project is currently focused on expansion to 500 square miles, and establishing of a full time ranger presence in the region to monitor the various cats and provide a point of contact for the local community.

You can find full details of the project and the methodologies being used to identify wildcats, reduce feline diseases, and deliver work which meets the highest standards in conservation, welfare and science on the Wildcat Haven website, just look for the links to the Action Plan.


The Haven