World Events Wednesday: Scottish wildcat – a dying breed

Scottish wildcat is one of the rarest animals in the world, the kind that could disappear within two years. Scientist Dr. Paul O’Donoghue, developed a genetic test to identify Scottish wildcats said that crossing of wild and hybrid cats leads to the extinction of this species.

Test on a small sample of blood can scan all 63,000 genes that make the hybrid cat. Then the test is compared with the genetic model of pure Scottish wildcat, and we get the final statistics on the level of hybridization present in the tested individual.

In collaboration with the curator of the National Museum of Scotland, Dr Andrew Kitchener, O’Donoghue examined hundreds of museum specimens of the Natural History Museum in Edinburgh and London. Specimens of this type are included in the last 140 years, and the goal was to find signs of hybridization.

Biologist at the University of Chester said that this species should be separated and protected in the western hills, in order to reproduce correctly.

He suggested that anyone interested breeds Scottish wild cats as pets. This proposal called for people to help in the preservation of the species.

Last record shows that the number of cats dropped below 100, and now there are only 35 species of these cats.

“Our research shows that the plight of the wildcat is now so serious that unless urgent and targeted conservation activities take place, its extinction due to hybridization is a certainty,” adds Dr. O’Donoghue.

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