Latest News - NEWS: Strathpeffer Primary children take a walk on the wildcat side

NEWS: Strathpeffer Primary children take a walk on the wildcat side

Local schoolchildren have taken part in a day of activities to help endangered Scottish wildcats in Strathpeffer. The event at Strathpeffer primary school on 30th November was organised jointly by Highland Council Countryside Ranger, Jenny Grant, and the wildcat project officer for Scottish Wildcat Action, Dr Keri Langridge.

Photo: Community cat board created to help identify pet cats from feral cats that need to be neutered by a vet.

Community cat board Strathpeffer

It is now hoped the children and their families will become ‘cat detectives’ and help to find and identify wildcats and un-owned feral or hybrid cats in the area.

Wildcat in Strathpeffer

Photo: One of the Scottish wildcats found in Strathpeffer by SWA

Scottish Wildcat Action is a national conservation effort to save the critically endangered Scottish wildcat and launched in 2015. It is led by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and comprises a partnership of 20 organisations.

It recently completed a survey of the area using trail-cameras and found six possible wildcats as well as eight hybrids (individuals with mixed wildcat and domestic cat ancestry). Further work is now underway to protect the wildcats that remain, including a programme of Trap Neuter Vaccinate Return for un-owned (feral) cats to prevent them inter-breeding or spreading disease to wildcats.

Carolyn Ritchie, the head teacher, said: “Everyone was delighted. The children have learned how to ID a wildcat, helped to produce a map of pet cats for the Strathpeffer Community Cat Board, and the Primary 7 children have even been involved in setting up a trail camera to hopefully capture pictures of a wildcat near the school. It is very exciting and we can’t wait to check the camera to see what animals we find.”

Keri added: “Strathpeffer wildcats live unusually close to this community, so it’s really important to get everyone involved in their protection. By contributing pictures of their pet cats, these younger wildcat-watchers are helping me build a picture of the local cat community so that I can identify feral cats and get them neutered and vaccinated.”

A community cat board will be on display at Strathpeffer Community Centre from Saturday 26 November and all local cat owners are encouraged to pop in and contribute a picture. There is also a Strathpeffer cat photo gallery on the website at www.scottishwildcataction.org/is-this-your-cat/strathpeffer for local people.

Hybrid cat in Strathpeffer

Photo: One of the hybrid cats found in Strathpeffer by SWA.

SWA is a five-year project working on six wildcat priority areas outlined in the national action plan. The Scottish Wildcat Action Steering Group comprises Scottish Natural Heritage; Forestry Commission Scotland; Cairngorms National Park Authority; National Museums Scotland; Royal Zoological Society of Scotland; Scottish Gamekeepers Association; Scottish Wildlife Trust; National Trust for Scotland and the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies – Edinburgh University.

Wildcats’ conservation is an important feature of the Scottish Government’s 2020 Biodiversity Challenge.

Dr Roo Campbell, the priority areas manager, said: “Strathpeffer is extremely important because the area contains some of the best wildcats remaining in Scotland. We are working hard with local people here to protect this beautiful cat for future generations.”

The main threats to the Scottish wildcats come from their interaction with domestic cats, particularly those that have been born in the wild, known as feral cats.

Scottish Wildcat Action aims to neuter and vaccinate the vast majority of feral cats in wildcat priority areas each year until 2020. To do this it relies on local tip-offs and trail camera technology.

Last month, Scottish Wildcat Action also launched a new app to help people report sightings of wild-living cats on the move. The Mammal Tracker app is available on Android and iPhone. Alternatively, sightings can be reported via www.scottishwildcataction.org

For more information about the project, visit www.scottishwildcataction.org or on Facebook and Twitter @SaveOurWildcats.

Scottish Wildcat Action is the first national project to save the highly endangered Scottish wildcat from extinction. It is a partnership involving over 20 organisations, including, Scottish Natural Heritage, Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), Cairngorms National Park Authority, Forestry Commission Scotland, National Museums Scotland, National Trust for Scotland, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh, Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association and the Scottish Wildlife Trust. It is funded by Heritage Lottery Fund and Scottish Government, as well as its partners.

 

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By:

Image for Vicky Burns

Vicky is the Communications Coordinator for Scottish Wildcat Action. She has a background in third sector communications and marketing and is based at the Scottish Wildlife Trust office in Edinburgh.

email or call 07799 342380

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We're always looking for Scottish Wildcat sightings - if u spot one report it via Mammal Tracker app… twitter.com/i/web/status/8…

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