And this is understandable, given the first species is critically endangered, while the second was wiped out in Scotland and has only recently been returned. There will be few people who have actually seen both in the wild.
Now the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland is working on a breed-and-release programme designed to save the wildcats, saying that without such measures the days of “Scotland's most iconic animal” are “numbered”.
David Barclay, of the RZSS, said: “Once widespread in Britain, habitat loss, hunting and inter-breeding with domestic cats have all taken their toll, leaving this incredible species on the verge of extinction.”
Meanwhile, the Beaver Trust has moved a family of five beavers to a site near Doune, Perthshire, from a place where they were causing serious problems for farmers.
This was done after the Scottish government agreed relocation could be used as an alternative to culling. In 2020, 115 beavers were killed despite the estimated population being only between 602 and 1,381.
Scotland is famous for its natural beauty, but we cannot allow it to become a barren land virtually devoid of animals, apart from farm livestock and wildlife capable of avoiding contact with people and surviving in the unnatural habitats we call home.
Otherwise, we risk turning into a country where our children will grow up learning about wildcats and other animals in books, alongside others like the dodo who no longer exist largely because of our actions.