Our last predator – the Scottish Wildcat – Artist Collaboration
The indigenous Scottish Wildcat (Felis silvestris grampia), nicknamed the ‘Highland Tiger’ is highly endangered. It is thought that there are less than 100 ‘pure’ wildcat’s left in the wild’s of Scotland, with an ever increasing number of hybrids diluting the population’s gene pool. The wildcat is one of Scotland’s and Britain’s most endangered species….being the last large wild predator in this land – the last of the free….
On first glance the wildcat looks alike with a domestic tabby, however on closer look there are huge differences. The wildcat is around 50% larger than a domestic cat, with a muscular appearance, razor sharp claws and a fearsome attitude. The fact that they are so elusive and have endured long running human impact is testament to their resilience.
The Highland Tiger has unfortunately suffered from persecution for 100’s of years and in most recent times from the vast sporting estates in Scotland, gamekeepers being paid handsomely for every wildcat kill. The cats served as the estates natural competition for their rich customers quarry of game birds. Thankfully by 1988 they were protected by law however the killing still continued/continues on estates in Scotland……is this still happening…who knows??
The cat is not just an important predator but is also woven into Scottish history and has vast cultural significance. Their influence on our ancestors can be traced back as far of the Picts, the first people of Scotland, who stood against the Romans invaders and follows through into more recent history as the centre of highland clan crests and mottos.
Despite being a highly important species, both in the natural world and the cultural heritage of Scotland, there has been little conservation work until relatively recently. Unfortunately both our people and the government have failed this animal for many years and now the population is at crisis point.
Part of the work of the Scottish Wildcat Association is setting up a wildcat haven, where the pure wildcat population can be protected. This work involves educating landowners on the issues, informing residents of the problems with interbreeding with domestics and trapping hybrid wildcats, then neutering and releasing them. Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) as the responsible government body is undertaking studies along with the funded Highland Tiger project. The problem being is that very little is actually known about the population so this animal needs robust scientific study in order to gain some definitive answers.
In order to assist the association and raise funds to help in a number of these areas, interested photographers and artists are collaborating to help raise funds. I have donated a number of images to assist with the artists in creating line drawing, paintings or other artworks that can be sold to raise money for wildcat conservation. Karie-Ann Cooper, Sam Fenner and Gordon Corrins are the current artists using my images for their artwork – I look forward to their results.
This is just at the beginning stages but you are able to find the gallery and more information on the artwork here http://www.phillarsen.plus.com/wildcat/Wildcat_Gallery/Welcome.html
You can also find more information here;
Scottish Wildcat Association – http://www.scottishwildcats.co.uk/
Highland Tiger Project – http://www.highlandtiger.com/
Lots of people support causes of saving animals worldwide that gain donations due to clever marketing, however we don’t take care of our own. Interestingly, how much do people pay to visit the large cat’s of Africa or India, when we have our own tiger? Our last predator, the last of free, the Highland Tiger……