As talk of the ‘beast from the east’ simmers down, it appears there’s a new animal on the prowl. And it’s in Scotland. Deemed one of the world’s largest wildcats ever documented, the ‘Clashindarroch Beast’ was spotted roaming a forest in Aberdeenshire.
This beauty, coming in at approximately four feet (1.2 metres) from tail to nose, was captured on camera thanks to the conservation efforts of Wildcat Haven, a fieldwork project dedicated to protecting Scottish wildcats in the wild.
Extraordinary sightings like this are orchestrated using remote live traps filled with food and scent bait. Sensitive to movement, the concealed camera snaps a shot the second anything crosses its path.
Wildcat Haven fieldworker Kev Bell told the BBC: ‘I’ve been fortunate enough to get footage of quite a few of these ghost cats; there’s about 10 to 15 of them here in Clashindarroch.’ The footage disproves various notions that there are no purebred Scottish wildcats left in the wild. Kev went on to say, ‘I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first saw this cat, he is enormous, a magnificent animal.’
An entirely separate species from domestic cats and up to twice the weight, these super predators display distinct features such as extremely thick fur marked with unbroken black and brown stripes and a thick banded tail painted with perfect dark rings.
As a unique island population of the European wildcat, it’s believed that the Scottish wildcat arrived in the UK some 12,000 years ago when Britain was connected to Europe by the land bridge known as Doggerland. Although driven to extirpation by human hunters and trappers throughout Wales, England and even southern Scotland, these resilient and highly elusive creatures still roam parts of the Highlands.
Being the most endangered mammals in Britain, the population is worryingly limited in numbers, with experts struggling to pinpoint an exact total. Some fear there may be as few as 35 pure wildcats left. Once more, these Highland tigers are terrified of humans.
Aside from deforestation, hybridisation (interspecies breeding) is the biggest threat towards genetically pure wildcats as both wildcats and domestic cats can mate with each other. In a desperate bid to save the breed, Wildcat Haven fieldworkers implement a sophisticated capture, neuter and release protocol for feral cats and low-grade hybrids around the Highlands.
Wildcat Haven fieldworker Steve Sleigh told the BBC: ‘These cats are a vital part of Scotland’s wild nature and ecology, and they must be protected wherever they live; they are one of the rarest animals in the world.’
Along with other Scottish wildcat populations in the likes of Lochaber and Caithness, the Clashindarroch Beast will be observed from afar and remain the laird of Scotland’s Clashindarroch high forest. Long may he reign!
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.