Friday 17 February 2012

Waiting for Wildcats

We very recently received some camera traps from the Highland Tiger project, aimed at conserving wildcats within the Cairngorms. They hope that we can use the cameras to capture photographs of wildcats in locations that have not been studied before. They are particularly interested to see if any cats we do find are individuals that have already been found elsewhere.
Camera trap set up across a trail, poised to capture some wildcat action!
Camera traps are a very useful tool for the conservation of a species like the wildcat. They can be used to record the distinctive markings of different individuals and then to begin to establish information about the territory of the animals. They also allow for capturing natural behaviour when no one is around to disturb it.

The wildcat has been identified by Scottish Natural Heritage as one of the most important species currently threatened by both man-made and natural environmental pressures and has been a protected species since 1988. They are the only remaining member of the cat family native to Britain but the most serious threat to their future is from mating with domestic cats and creating fertile ‘hybrid’ offspring. These hybrid cats are damaging because they weaken the wildcat populations and make it less likely for two ‘pure’ wildcats to breed and have ‘true’ wildcat offspring.

If you think that you’ve seen a wildcat yourself or want to be sure of how to identify them, check here to make sure you know what to look for. If it is a wildcat don’t forget to report it to the project so they can get as much information as possible about these elusive animals.

We’ve put the camera traps out today and are hoping they will capture some photographs of wildcats over the weekend. We’ll let you know the results here! In the meantime, why not check out the Highland Tiger YouTube channel or visit their facebook page.

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