Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Wild Cats

Some more photos from last weeks trip to the British Wildlife Centre. In the afternoon we went into the Wild cat enclosures.

Wild Cat - Felis silvestris

Britain's only wild member of the cat family bears a close resemblance to the domestic tabby, but it is more striped and has a bushier, blunt-ended tail marked with thick black rings. Now confined to the Scottish highlands, wild cats disappeared from southern England in the 16th century; the last one recorded in northern England was shot in 1849.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act gives strict legal protection to wild cats and their dens. They are easily confused with 'feral' cats, which are domestic cats living wild, of which there are about 900,000 in Britain today.

Unfortunately the two species also interbreed to give hybrids, which makes it extremely difficult to define the genetic purity of a wildcat.

The wild cat has suffered considerable decline in population and is now considered at serious risk of extinction in this country.

The cats may look like the domesticated cat, but no way would you pick one of these up and stroke it. They hissed if they felt you were too close and we were warned to always allow them an escape route


Jan said...

The male feral tom cat at my friend's farm looks very much like the wild ones here, not likely though that any are down these parts I suppose to have interbred.

Kathryn and Ari said...

Wow--what a beautiful animal! I wonder if they are related to the recently-domesticated Maine Coon Cat here in New England: they look remarkably similar.

Sandpiper said...

What a wonderful portrait.