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Wild Cats in the Highlands

The Scottish wildcat is Britain's last native cat species and it is now rarer than the tiger with less than 400 left in the wild. David Lindo visits Strathpeffer to find out more.

Strathpeffer in the Highlands of Scotland is one of the few remaining strongholds of the elusive Scottish wildcat. The species is now considered to be rarer than the tiger with estimates of between 40 and 400 wildcats left in the wild. The reason that these estimates vary so widely is that the creatures are very hard to spot and that they are often mixed up with large feral or hybrid cats who are also responsible for diluting the remaining gene pool.

Feral cats also cause problems for the wildcats when they bring disease into the few remaining areas where experts believe wildcat populations exist. That's why the Scottish Wildcat Action team are working on a 'Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate and Release' programme. with the help of the local community, to ensure domestic cats do not interbreed with wildcats or spread disease.

David Lindo meets the team at Scottish Wildcat Action in Strathpeffer to see first hand how this programme works as the wildcat enters the vitally important breeding season from January to March.

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