At the end of May, the Saving Wildcats Project announced the first kittens had been born at our dedicated conservation breeding for release centre. Based at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s Highland Wildlife Park, this centre is the first of its kind in the UK and an integral part of our European partnership project which aims to prevent the extinction of wildcats in Scotland by breeding and releasing them into the wild.
We were delighted to welcome three litters, to mums Droma (pictured below), Torr and Caol Ila. Their kittens will likely be among the first of their species to be released into the wild in Britain, in carefully selected sites within the Cairngorms National Park from 2023.
The birth of these kittens heralds an import milestone for the project. As they grow, our expert team of keepers will help prepare them for a life in the wild, from a distance of course.
Once the kittens have reached their natural dispersal age (from six to eight months), they will be moved to large pre-release enclosures in which they will have plenty of opportunities to develop their natural behaviours, such as their hunting and tracking skills, so they have the best possible chance of survival after they are released.
Our keepers employ a hands-off approach to ensure that the wildcats in our centre don’t become habituated to humans, but they still need to carry out regular enclosure maintenance, check on the welfare of the wildcats and, most importantly, make sure that they’re all getting fed the proper amount!
To carry out these daily tasks, our keepers need sturdy boots. We keep the enclosures in our centre as wild as possible, which means they need to traverse boggy ground, climb over logs and sometimes even to crawl through undergrowth to get their jobs done. They rely heavily on their Muck Boots to keep their feet dry, and we were delighted when Muck Boot offered us some of their amazing products.
Rachel (pictured below) is one of our keepers and she loves working in her Muckmaster Tall Boots which she finds incredibly comfortable and sturdy – they even keep her toes warm in the snow we get up here in the Highlands!
If you’d like to find out more about the Saving Wildcats project, visit savingwildcats.org.uk, and keep an eye out for our next blog!
You can also sponsor Droma and follow her journey into motherhood at savingwildcats.org.uk/sponsor
About the Saving Wildcats Project
The Saving Wildcats project is led by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) in collaboration with NatureScot (formerly Scottish Natural Heritage), Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS), The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA), Norden’s Ark and Junta de Andalucía.
The project is funded with the contribution of the LIFE Programme of the European Union and the generous support of the Garfield Weston Foundation, The National Trust for Scotland, The People’s Trust for Endangered Species and The European Nature Trust.
More on the Saving Wildcats Project
Muckmaster Wellington Boots