April 2016 www.escot.wildwoodtrust.org 01404 822188
Wildcats have returned to a Devon Woodland this week….
Wildwood Trust which now runs the 'Wildwood Escot' animal park near Ottery St Mary are inviting people to come and see our wildcat as they champion rewilding in Devon. The charity is making the bold claim that rewilding can create an ecological and tourist resurgence in the County bringing jobs and wildlife in equal abundance.
The animal experts at Wildwood Trust have been working tirelessly to build a natural woodland enclosure which shows off these formally native animals that once prowled the woodlands of Devon.
Often mislabelled as ‘Scottish Wildcats’ these British wildcats roamed the whole of Britain until they were persecuted and driven to extinction by hunting and overgrazing. The poor British Wildcat now clings to a tiny few areas of Scotland but they will soon be extinct unless we stop the insane polices of subsiding upland grazing and giving tax breaks to hunting estates that graze the land bare.
The rare and valuable Wildcat, called Staffin, is one of the few remaining true wildcats, in genetic tests he scored as one of the purist British wildcats left in the world. He is soon to be joined by a female and their offspring will be part of a national breeding programme which aims to rescue this formally native animal of Devon from extinction.
Peter Smith, Wildwood’s founder, said;
“Devon’s uplands have been destroyed by a century of overgrazing and it is our aim to return the Wildwood to its former condition. By changing the rules of agricultural subsidies and returning animals like wildcats our uplands could blossom with wildlife and draw people from around the world to enjoy a rebirth of wildlife”
Rewilding has many benefits, with more jobs, cleaner water and air. Rewilding can have a major impact on helping reduce flooding downstream to farms and towns. The list of benefits far out way the negatives and the real challenge of the rewilding movement is to allow a democratic debate for the majority of the population to reclaim public policy on how our wild lands are managed."
If we can restore our uplands to a former state they can support the wildcat and form a safe home to protect them for many generations to come.
Rewilding is a benefit to the vast majority of people and our investment in building a rewilding visitor centre in the Escot Estate aims to demonstrate what can be achieved and help build a movement to champion bringing the wildwood back to the south west.
This work will continue for years to come and visitors to Wildwood Escot can now share in our journey to show just what a rewilded Devon can look like and to join our charity as a member to forward this cause. Visitors can also enjoy a walk around the magnificent House and Garden’s experiencing our other formally native wildlife such as red Squirrels, wild boar or even beavers on our special beaver watch evenings. The estate boasts many feature such as an exciting maze and adventure play area with the frightening tree top drop slide.
To visit the wildcats and enjoy an exciting day out for all the family visit http://www.escot.wildwoodtrust.orgor call 01404 822188. All profits go towards our charitable work.
Wild Cat (Felis silvestris)
Wildcats are native to the UK but now exist only in the highlands of Scotland. They are not closely related to the domestic cat and are much bigger and bulkier with a large bushy tail. As the name suggests they are wild and cannot easily be tamed even from a kitten. They are able to interbreed with the domestic cat, which weakens their genetics.
Wildcats hunt on small animals in the moorlands and woodlands of Scotland. The wildcats at Wildwood can be seen lounging in their specially designed hammocks and climbing amongst the branches in their enclosure. Look closely as their fur gives them fantastic camouflage.