Our last day on the Natural Habitat Highlands tour started out with a visit to the Aigas Field Centre to learn about their wildcat breeding program. The Aigas Wildcat Conservation Breeding Programme was set up in 2011 and is now breeding these animals in collaboration with a large network of organizations, who share the ultimate goal of releasing wildcats back into large tracts of healthy Highland habitat. They are working to breed enough wildcats for release, so a wild population can not only survive but thrive and spread to colonize new areas. Currently there are 7 wildcats at Aigas and we were given the opportunity to observe one of them for about a half hour. These cats seem no larger than a large house cat – something I was not expecting being used to the bobcat in Kentucky, also known as the Kentucky Wildcat.
Captive breeding of wildcats in Scotland has helped prevent them disappearing completely from the Scottish landscape and will play a vital role in the future conservation of this animal, which is considered extinct in the wild. A plan is in place to start releasing wildcats back into the Scottish Highlands in the near future.