Anyone who knows me will tell you I seldom miss an opportunity to talk about my favourite subject, our amazing wildlife, and my all-consuming passion at the moment, which is turning the tide for Scottish wildcats. Since joining Scottish Wildcat Action I have given talks to hundreds of people in local community groups, young Beaver Scouts, teenage Wildlife Watch group members, university students and even politicians. It’s always a pleasure to share with people how special wildcats are and see the realisation that we have a unique animal worth preserving sink in with your audience. Of course you have to explain the complex issues affecting wildcats slightly differently to five year olds but they do really good wildcat impersonations by the end!
Last week I had the opportunity to give a presentation at the launch of the North East Scotland Biodiversity Champions initiative hosted by Aberdeenshire Council. Along with Dr Roo Campbell, the wildcat priority areas manager, we gave an outline of Scottish Wildcat Action and its progress in its first year in the northeast of Scotland to an audience of councillors and colleagues from a wide variety of conservation organisations.
We tried to mix the bad news (wildcats are in trouble and need urgent help) with the good news (our team is on the case and we’ve just completed our first big survey season and have found some really interesting cats). It was a particular pleasure of mine to be able to report that over 150 people have volunteered to help with the winter wildcat survey, from young children to those over 80 years of age.
Of these amazing volunteers, we’ve had people from all walks of life and all abilities, such as people who had to ski to their remote survey locations and one lady who checked her wildcat cameras on horseback. We even had one participant whose dedication getting to her survey site, sometimes with the aid of her mobility scooter, paid off with some amazing wildcat images. To all of these amazing people we say a huge thank you.
We could not have achieved the biggest ever survey of wildcats without your dedication and enthusiasm. At the Aberdeenshire event it was also really refreshing to hear some good news about biodiversity and to come away inspired by the number of local projects helping to conserve our native species big and small. The take home message of the day was that we can all help wildlife and biodiversity.
Find out more about how you can help at www.scottishwildcataction.org/how-you-can-help
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.
See www.scottishwildcataction.org for more information.