Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Highland Tiger

My dad's people, somewhere along the way, hailed from Scotland. Maybe that's why I adore the Appalachian high country so much. It resembles the highlands of Scotland. But for whatever reason I've always liked looking at photos of Scotland and reading about the place.

A few weeks ago I began emailing various park and wildlife personnel there asking if they had any projects afoot to restore ancient Scottish ecosystems, and to bring back wildlife that's been extirpated. When I mention the return of wolves and bears, they think I'm daft. One reason is that Scottish National Parks are not like such parks in North America. There, much of the parkland is inhabited by people in the forms of farms and even towns that are included within park boundaries. So the idea of restoring large predators to the landscape is frowned upon by the average citizen who would have to live with them. (Yes, it's hard to believe my tough Scottish brethren are wussies, but it's sadly so.)

However, they are trying to bring back many of the small and medium-sized creatures that were exterminated by Mankind. Among them are otters, beavers, and even the European lynx. The only real pure predator left in Scotland is the famed Scottish wildcat. These are terribly endangered for a number of reasons. Some people still consider them pests and kill them on sight. They tend to interbreed with feral domestic cats and if this continues they will just breed themselves out of existence. And they suffer from feline diseases spread by domestic cats, both feral and pets.

So to try to preserve this last remaining icon of the Scottish landscape, there are movements to see that they will continue to exist. If you're interested (I was), follow this link to read about these efforts to save the Scottish wildcat from extinction.

The Highland Tiger.

And if you're a real mensch, donate some money to them.

The Scottish Wild Cat (Image by Terry Button)

No comments: