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A mysterious and rarely seen beast, the Scottish Wildcat is Britain's rarest mammal, and one of the most endangered carnivores in the world.
While looking somewhat like a beefed-up version of the familiar tabby cat, Scottish Wildcats are fierce and very wild – yet they're also the most endangered mammals in the world. Wildcats have endured centuries of habitat loss; they have been hunted for fur and been killed as vermin, with claims that they put rural livelihoods at risk with their interference in grouse shooting. They are now also threatened by inbreeding with domestic moggies. Nonetheless, the wildcat has long been the subject of human fascination and reverence – achieving iconic status in Scotland in particular, where it can be seen in clan crests dating back hundreds of years.
This new nature-writing narrative from Marianne Taylor is about the UK's solitary, elusive wild feline and includes personal accounts of Marianne's time spent in wildcat country searching in vain to see a Scottish Wildcat, as she assesses the current methods designed to ensure its survival – from camera-trap projects to captive breeding programmes.
Woven into her rich personal narrative, Marianne discusses Wildcat evolutionary history and their relationships to other wild cats and carnivores. She reveals the history of wildcats colonising Europe and then Britain, their response to ice ages, and the species' population crash and near extinction at the start of 20th century.
Tracking the Highland Tiger is a great read for anyone with an interest in Britain's wildlife and wild places, and especially to those who are fond of felines. Packed full of lore, legend and literature, as well as practical discussion regarding the wildcat's future, this narrative is sure to convey the importance of protecting this enigmatic carnivore.
Marianne Taylor is a freelance writer, illustrator, photographer and editor, and author of many natural history books, including The Way of the Hare, Dragonflight, RSPB British Birds of Prey and RSPB British Naturefinder. A passion for all wildlife has been a driving force throughout her life.