The European wildcat disappeared from England and Wales a century ago – they were considered vermin – and the species is now one of the rarest and most endangered mammals in Britain.
The only wildcat population remaining is found in the remote Scottish Highlands, although interbreeding with domestic cats has resulted in them being declared “functionally extinct” as a species.
A healthy population of wildcats will help restore the balance in the ecosystem by controlling numbers of prey animals, such as rabbits and rodents, and predators such as foxes through competition for food.
To help establish a wildcat population outside Scotland, The Wildwood Trust, Durrell and VWT is sharing their skills, knowledge and experience and working with local communities on reintroduction plans. Teams are currently looking for ecologically suitable land in Wales and England, with Wildwood’s long experience in breeding wildcats helping to create a new wild population, which will be released over many years.
Wildwood will be launching a national appeal later this year to raise funds to build wildcat breeding facilities. For further information visit www.wildwoodtrust.org