A vital project to restore Scotland’s wildcat population has received a funding boost with a 400,000 Scottish Government grant to the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS).
Led by the wildlife conservation charity and based at Highland Wildlife Park, the Saving Wildcats project aims to prevent the extinction of the critically endangered species by breeding and releasing wildcats into the wild. RZSS has also received an additional 278,000 from the Scottish Government’s zoo and aquarium conservation fund to ensure efforts can continue to protect other threatened native species.
Dr Helen Senn, head of conservation and science programmes at RZSS, said, “Every visit to Highland Wildlife Park and Edinburgh Zoo supports our work to protect threatened species around the world, including on our doorstep in the Cairngorms National Park. “This 678,000 Scottish Government funding to help protect native species and support our work with partners is very welcome.”
Saving Wildcats is a partnership between RZSS, NatureScot, the Cairngorms National Park Authority, Forestry and Land Scotland, as well as European partners Norden’s Ark from Sweden and Spain’s Junta De Andaluc a, which have led the successful recovery of the Iberian lynx. The six-year project is supported by 3.2million of EU funding. It is also co-funded by Scotland’s nature agency NatureScot and a wide variety of partners. Conservation experts are hopeful the first wildcats can be released in 2023 with potential locations being explored in the Cairngorms.