A breeding program could result in the UK’s rarest mammal being released into the wild, creating the first population outside Scotland in more than 200 years.
Conservationists have started building breeding facilities in. began Kent and Devon as part of a nationwide effort to save wildcats from extinction.
The furry animals are the only native species of cats that have survived in the UK, and a small population still roams the area scottish highlands.
But with fewer than an estimated 300 individuals remaining, the population has been declared “functionally extinct”.
Now a number of conservation organizations have started work on 10 new enclosures in their parks to help secure the future of endangered species.
Sally Holt, Senior Wildcat Carer at the Wildwood Trust in Herne Bay, Kent, highlighted the importance of the facilities as “breeding this mysterious species can be challenging.”
She said, “Off-show breed pens will create a quieter environment and will help kittens develop important survival behaviors.
“Wildcats have very special preferences for cave boxes, so we’ve worked hard with researchers to find the right design for the new enclosures. It will be so exciting to see how all this work is bearing fruit.”
Park rangers are currently clearing the grounds for the breeding center, which is being set back from the main area to ensure the welfare of the animals and their young.
Each enclosure will house a pair of cats whose kittens will later be released into the wild.
Wildwood Trust claims that a healthy population of reintroduced wild cats will help restore balance to the ecosystem by controlling the numbers of prey such as rabbits and rodents and of predators such as foxes through competition for food.
Laura Gardner, Director of Conservation at the Foundation, said, “As a charity that has successfully bred wildcats in our parks, we see firsthand how people love to visit, helping to create a world in They live side by side to be with us again will be incredible to witness. “
The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and the Vincent Wildlife Trust are also involved in the project.