‘Enormous’ wildcat found in Aberdeenshire

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Media captionOne of the largest wildcats ever recorded in the world has been discovered

One of the largest wildcats ever recorded in the world has been discovered by field workers in Aberdeenshire’s Clashindarroch Forest.

Nicknamed the Clashindarroch Beast, it was captured on camera and is estimated to be 4ft (1.2m) from nose to tail.

The footage was gathered as part of a Scottish wildcat conservation project operating across the Highlands.

Remote traps are baited with food or scent, and anytime something passes in front of it the camera shoots video.

Kev Bell, field worker at Wildcat Haven, said: “I’ve been fortunate to get footage of quite a few of these ghost cats; there’s about 10 to 15 of them here in the Clashindarroch.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first saw this cat, he is enormous, a magnificent animal.”

‘Rarest animals’

The technology is used around the world to identify populations of rare and elusive species such as wildcats.

Kev said: “The cameras give us amazing insight to this priceless group of wildcats which have somehow survived here and avoided hybridisation.

“Some people say that the wildcat doesn’t exist anymore but we know different and wildcats like ‘The Beast’ prove it.”

Steve Sleigh, another fieldworker with Wildcat Haven, added: “These cats are a vital part of Scotland’s wild nature and ecology, and they must be protected wherever they live; they are one of the rarest animals in the world.”

The project involves the neutering of feral domestic cats across more than 1,000 square miles of the West Highlands.

This is done to avoid the excessive predation of rabbits and rats which would otherwise affect the survival of wildcats in the area.

The Clashindarroch Beast will continue to be monitored as well as wildcat populations in Caithness and Lochaber, where the project began a decade ago.

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