Aberdeenshire footage sparks hope for threatened species
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Wildcat Haven has found footage of a young wildcat in the Clashindarroch forest, near Huntly, which contains the main stronghold for the Scottish wildcat.
This young cat - which is estimated to be 14 weeks old - is clear evidence that the Scottish wildcat is still breeding in the wild and casts serious doubt over the governments' claims that it is functionally extinct.
Scientific research shows that the Scottish wildcat is critically endangered with as few as 35 remaining, making them 70 times rarer than the giant panda.
Wildcat Haven's director Dr Paul O’Donoghue said: "This is an incredibly important find, the camera was set for eight weeks and this is the only glimpse we got of what is one of the rarest kittens in the world.
"Just look at the perfectly ringed blunt tail and clear leg stripes which are key diagnostic features of the Scottish wildcat.
"This rare footage offers new hope for saving the wildcat in the wild."
The publicly owned Clashindarroch, however, is currently being logged by the Forestry Land Scotland to make pulp for toilet rolls and there are plans for major windfarm development which would destroy huge areas of habitat and be disastrous for the wildcats.
Continuing, Dr O'Donoghue said: "We want this kitten to be able to grow up in peace and have kittens of its own next year.
"It is astonishing that the biggest threat to this happening, is logging by government agencies.
"It is simply not acceptable.
"If we have found young pandas in there then it wouldn’t be logged and so why is the magnificent Scottish wildcat suffering this fate."
Local volunteer Kevin Bell is the fieldworker who set the camera that found this kitten.
He said: "It is phenomenal to see a wildcat kitten that was declared functionally extinct but we now know that they are still clinging on to survival in their forest home.
"It seems like the government forgot to tell the wildcat that it is supposed to be extinct."
Wildcat Haven launched a petition to stop the logging of the Clashindarroch and make it a protected area.
The petition has now been signed by over 827,000 people.
Living Law, a specialist environmental law firm working for Wildcat Haven, have put the Government agency on notice that it has a statutory duty to designate the Clashindarroch as a SSSI and will launch litigation proceedings if needed to hold it to account.