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 Numerous surveys have been attempted by Scottish Natural Heritage at considerable cost forcing researchers to use outdated methodologies which have unsurprisingly resulted in numerous "inconclusive" results.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.
It is still useful to hear about sightings of wildcats or near hybrids, very recently a fragment population of apparently very pure wildcats was discovered by a member of the public; 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; many reports of very domestic cats turn up 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 directly there also if you prefer; all sightings reported through this website go directly to the Wildcat Haven project. They are also interested in sightings of domestic, farm or feral cats within the Wildcat Haven region (west Lochaber) itself.
The details you supply along with personal data such as your name and e-mail address will be held permanently on a database kept confidentially by Wildcat Haven and which is 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.