A significant problem with Scottish wildcat conservation is that we know very little about their population size or distribution; serious estimates typically put them in the low tens or hundreds. Numerous surveys have been attempted by Scottish Natural Heritage at considerable cost forcing researchers to use outdated methodologies which have unsurprisingly resulted in numerous "inconclusive" results.
Since 2007 this website has collated around 1500 eye witness sightings and photos from members of the general public, farmers, gamekeepers and conservationists across Scotland, which through assessment of coat patterns highlighted several areas where good populations of wildcats could still remain, such as west Lochaber where the Wildcat Haven project is based.
The data has also been used by conservationists to make estimates of population size and identify areas where more survey work would be beneficial to establish whether wildcats were still present in the area or not; whilst eye witness sightings are far from the most reliable data, patterns do form in the data which provide researchers with useful starting points.
We are still interested in hearing about sightings of wildcats or near hybrids, especially in the West Highlands region as it appears unlikely that pure Scottish wildcats exist anywhere else; it does help a great deal if you manage to get a photo or video footage of your sighting, but if not just providing as much detail as you can remember, describing the cat and the habitat it was seen in, is hugely appreciated.
Please also have a look at our Scottish wildcat identification page before writing; we receive many reports of very domestic cats from witnesses certain they know what a wildcat looks like; many of the images and definitions circulated in recent years have been inaccurate so it is well worth ensuring you are up to date in your understanding!
Further identification information can also be found on the Wildcat Haven website, and you can report sightings there also if you prefer; we share our data with the project. They are particularly interested in sightings of pure Scottish wildcats and good hybrids in the West Highlands region, or any sightings of feral cats within the Wildcat Haven region (west Lochaber) itself.
We do try to reply to everyone who contacts us however this is not always possible.
Privacy and data protection
The details you supply to us along with personal data such as name and e-mail address will be held permanently on a database kept confidentially by us and subject to data protection and privacy laws, however, the database will be made available to the reputable scientific community on request, subject to their research benefitting the conservation of the pure Scottish wildcat and a guarantee of respecting the various data and privacy laws.