Highland Wildlife Park has announced the births of eight new wildcat kittens as a part of its conservation efforts.

The adorable wildcat kittens are likely to be among the first of the species to be released into the wild in Britain.

Earlier in the year, sixteen wildcats were paired up at the Highland Wildlife Park and the Saving Wildcats conservation centre has now welcomed eight kittens in three litters.

The centre hopes that there will be even more births over the coming weeks.

Highland Wildlife Park welcomes new wildcat kittens

HeraldScotland: Droma with wildcat kittens in a nest box , which will likely be among the first of their species to be released into the wild in Britain, have been born in the Saving Wildcats conservation breeding for release centre at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s Highland Wildlife Park. Credit: RZSS/Saving Wildcats/PADroma with wildcat kittens in a nest box , which will likely be among the first of their species to be released into the wild in Britain, have been born in the Saving Wildcats conservation breeding for release centre at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s Highland Wildlife Park. Credit: RZSS/Saving Wildcats/PA

David Barclay, Saving Wildcats conservation manager, said: “Put simply, these kittens are the future of wildcats in Scotland.”

He added: “Decades of extensive research have shown their species is highly likely to go extinct in Britain if we do not carry out releases to restore our critically endangered wildcat population.”

Saving Wildcats, led by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), is working with national and international experts to help restore the critically endangered wildcat population.

Their conservation efforts include breeding as well as plans of releasing them into carefully selected locations in the Cairngorms National Park.

This season, Droma has had three kittens so far while Caol Ila also has three kittens and Torr has two kittens.

At around eight to 10 weeks old, the kittens will be sexed, microchipped, vaccinated and given a health check.

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Planning is already under way for the first releases in 2023, and will be subject to receiving a translocation licence.

Dr Helen Senn, head of conservation and science at RZSS said numbers in the wild had declined as “habitat loss, hunting and inter-breeding with domestic cats have all taken their toll”.

Sarah Henshall, head of conservation at the Cairngorms National Park Authority, said it was home to more than a quarter of the UK’s rare and endangered species and described the arrival of the first wildcat kittens as a “significant milestone in our collective efforts to save this critically endangered species from extinction in Britain”.