A new national action plan is being developed to save the Scottish wildcat.

Many Scottish wildcats have bred in the wild with domestic cats to produce hybrids, so it is not known how many pure-bred wildcats remain, with the official estimate of about 400 regarded as too optimistic.

The Herald revealed earlier this summer that some wildcat conservationists have been frustrated with what they see as the slow progress by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the Scottish Government on acting to save the wildcat, which is more threatened than the tiger.

The news of a conservation plan comes after the completion of the Cairngorms Wildcat Project, which involved raising awareness of the wildcat's plight, working with land managers and monitoring the wildcat population using camera trap data.

Ron Macdonald, SNH's head of policy and advice, said: "The end of the Cairngorms Wildcat Project now starts a new phase of action for the Scottish wildcat. It is now up to us, all of us involved in wildcat conservation, to build on the work of this project to develop a new national action plan."

Steve Piper of the Scottish Wildcat Association welcomed the announcement and said he was pleased the SWA had been invited to take part in its development, adding: "It's unacceptable to go on pretending that taking photos of hybrids is somehow saving the wildcat; it isn't. All the evidence suggests numbers are well below 100 individuals and this is absolutely the last chance. One to two years from now it will be too late."