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Scottish wildcat: 'Rarest kittens' in the world rescued

Scottish wildcat: 'Rarest kittens' in the world rescued

Two orphaned Scottish wildcat kittens have been rescued, offering hope to a species which is near extinction. The animals were found "dehydrated, weak, and moving towards a road" in the West Highlands of Scotland.The kittens are now staying at a purpose-built rehabilitation until they're old enough to be released in to the wild. Only 35 wildcats are left in Scotland making them one of the rarest animals in the world.
Wildcat Haven, a conservation group, were made aware of the kittens' existence after a member of the public reported seeing them.
24 hours after they were spotted, the kittens were rescued.After setting remote cameras and bait it was confirmed that there was no mother looking for them and that they were orphaned.
"I almost fell off my chair when I saw the photos," says Wildcat Haven's chief scientific advisor Dr Paul O'Donoghue. "The markings looked amazing, far better than any kitten I'd seen in a zoo."The feline siblings are currently being looked after in their own acre of a fenced forest established by Highland Titles, another conservation group and supporter of Wildcat Haven.
"We set it up last year," explains Highland Titles Founder and conservationist, Dr Peter Bevis."I thought we could fence off some of our forest and that would be a good place for an injured wildcat to recover before being released back into the wild."I never expected that we'd have two orphaned wildcat kittens coming to stay though."
Cross-mating with domestic feral cats has meant that pure Scottish wildcats are disappearing into the feral cat gene pool.According to Wildcat Haven, feral cats now outnumber wildcats in the Highlands by as much as 3000 to one.They say there are currently only 35 pure Scottish wildcats left in the world, meaning these kittens represent 6% of all the Scottish wildcats in existence. Follow Newsbeat on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 every weekday on BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra - if you miss us you can listen back here.
Nature
Animals
Endangered species
Cats
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