£15,384 awarded

The wildcat is one of the UK’s rarest and most endangered mammals, currently restricted to small parts of the Scottish Highlands. They are very shy and almost entirely nocturnal, lying in their dens in the daytime and when the weather is bad.

The wildcat looks very similar to a very large tabby cat, but it is stockier with a fluffier, blunt tail. Distinct banding on the tail and markings on the body enable spotters to tell true wildcats apart from domestic hybrids.

The South West was one of the last strongholds for wildcats in England. Preliminary studies concluded that Devon could play a crucial role in the future of the species in mainland Britain.

DEF’s grant provides part-funding for the Devon Wildlife Trust to conduct a scoping study to identify the critical next steps to enable wildcat reintroductions in Devon.

The study will complete the science and evidence assessments required to ascertain if reintroductions are advisable and launch a social feasibility study and comprehensive public engagement programme to give wildcats, if reintroduced, the best chance to thrive.

Image courtesy of Devon Wildlife Trust.

UPDATE Spring 2024: Read about the update of their feasibility study here.