Posted by: brigid benson | September 23, 2010

What’s up pussycat?

Have been wild camping.

Dank, low cloud –  hanging around highland hills for far too long  – made remote Scottish glens feel even more eerie as dusk fell. Smothering the tops, the thick white shroud was pierced occasionally by unseen birds of prey calling from the scree and the haunting bellow of rutting stags in the deep forest.

Any chance of a wildcat  sighting was dashed.  Once worshipped by the ancient Picts, the elusive  felis silvestris grampia, the Scottish wildcat is now the UK’s rarest mammal. For over two million years these predators have patrolled moor, mountain and forest, hunting rabbits and hares, pursuing and killing eagles and foxes. But hunter became hunted; Victorian gamekeepers were paid a bounty for every kill and, with their wild habitat under threat, only 400 of these magnificent felines remain.

Extinction is a strong possibility and so there’s a call to arms across Scotland. Neutering pet cats is an effective way of preventing the wildcat gene pool becoming diluted and reducing speed on country roads reduces roadkill, be it pheasants, rabbits or wildcats.

It’s unlikely I’ll ever encounter one of these solitary and elusive highland tigers in the wild but just knowing they are out there is an inspiration.

For inspired escapes and fascinating people to meet, check out 52 Weekends by the Sea – look forward to joining you there!

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