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Tull, not cull, for the Highland wildcat

By Tom Ramage

Can he escape extinction? (RZSS)
Can he escape extinction? (RZSS)

Thick as a brick?Well, “Jethro Tull” legend Ian Anderson is certainly a brick anyway, when it comes to promoting the kind of wildcat conservation project being assisted by Kincraig’s Highland Wildlife Park in Badenoch.

The global drive to protect endangered cats was celebrated on Monday by the Royal Zoological Society’s Edinburgh Zoo at a special evening which featured the flautist extraordinaire.

One of Scotland’s most famous musicians, Andersonhelped to raise awareness and support for small cat projects in the wild – such as Pallas’s cat, Arabian sand cats and Scotland’s very own wildcat.

The projects are all supported by the conservation charity RZSS across the globe. The evening provided guests with an opportunity to learn more about the projects being carried out in Scotland, Nepal, Mongolia, Iran, Kazakhstan and United Arab Emirates and to hear why he has taken time out to support them and share his feelings toward small cat conservation.

The event, which raised funds through donations to support the projects, looked at the conservation of small cat species in the wild, providing a wealth of interesting information about the cats and what the society is doing to save them from extinction.

The talks explored the objectives taken on by RZSS through Scottish wildcat action and the key role the society is playing in halting the decline in the UK’s last remaining wildcat species.

The audience was also treated to rare footage of Pallas’s cats in their natural habitat, taken using new technology which helps the project track these cats in the wild.The audience also learnt about how the team in RZSS Edinburgh Zoo’s WildGenes lab are working closely with Al Ain Zoo in the UAE and the sand cat breeding programmes to study and help conserve Arabian sand cats.

RZSS Cat Conservation Project Officer David Barclay shared his experiences of cat conservation in the field, from protecting the wildcat in Scotland to searching for rare Pallas’s cats in the Himalayas, Mongolia and Iran.

RZSS Events Executive Jo Paulson said: “It was such a privilege to have Ian Anderson join us for the evening and to share his passion for cat conservation. This event has hopefully given people a better understanding of the work being carried out to help numerous species of small cat such as the Scottish wildcat, the Pallas’s cat and the Arabian sand cat; as well as why it so important to save these species.”

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