Jenny is Wildlife Ecologist - Operations Manager with Scottish Natural Heritage. She has a background in research and has worked for SNH for 14 years in various roles; including species lead for wildcats and red squirrels. SNH chair the Scottish Wildcat Action Steering Group and are a lead partner and funder alongside the Heritage Lottery Fund of the work in priority areas.
Latest News - Wildcats are go! Green light for Scottish Wildcat Action
We are now all systems go with Scottish Wildcat Action. Our partner organisations, experts and dedicated Steering Group have helped shape the plan and protocols, we've secured the funding, and the new team is primed to deliver the action.
My first involvement with wildcats stretches back to the mid 90’s when David Balharry and Mike Daniels were carrying our research on wild-living cats in Scotland, highlighting the extent of hybridisation with domestic cats and some of the difficulties of identifying and protecting wildcats. Back then I joined Mike radio-tracking wildcats and Dr Andrew Kitchener to score museum cat skins for their coat patterns or ‘pelage’.
This ecological, morphological and genetic research has greatly improved our knowledge about wildcats. However, it is probably fair to say that a lack of consensus about how best to protect wildcats has held conservation efforts back. The SNH Species Action Framework initiative brought the opportunity to trial some practical conservation under the auspices of the Cairngorms Wildcat Project between 2009 -2012. The partnerships developed during that project helped to found the first national Scottish Wildcat Conservation Action Plan which now unites experts from more than 20 organisations. The action represents a comprehensive package of measures to halt their decline within 6 years.
This year I was again impressed by the expertise and commitment of the 50+ wildcat enthusiasts that came together for the Scottish Wildcat Action Forum in May. Despite the wide range of interests represented and the inevitable spectrum of views on some complex issues, all were there with the single purpose of wanting to make a difference for wildcats. The new team got the opportunity to demonstrate and seek input to the different stands of work and there was a real sense of positivity about the opportunity we have in the next 5 years.
Since the action plan launch, research has been commissioned and published, we have consulted wildcat experts in Europe, hosted public meetings in priority areas and sought views from experts on particular topics. With this work behind us, we hope to be able to report back on progress with delivering the action and with news of wildcats making a comeback. For my part, I’ve been lucky to see two in the wild, what about you?
You can report sightings here.
This content was made possible by our Partners & Funders at Scottish Natural Heritage