Scottish Wildcat Sculpture Heading North

Submitted by edg on Mon, 2 Aug '10 11.17pm

A Scottish wildcat sculpture created by north Edinburgh children will appear for the last time in the capital at next weekend’s Edinburgh Mela.

Following the Mela on 7 and 8 August, the sculpture is moving north to be permanently housed at the Wildcat Centre in Newtonmore in the Highlands.

The six foot sculpture was created by children, aged 11 to 13 years, during a project drawing on art and design from Mela festivals, carnivals, South Asia, and from nature. The children attended an intensive summer school put on by the North Edinburgh Arts Centre, in association with the Edinburgh Mela, with £5000 support from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and £2000 from Forth Neighbourhood Partnership.

Angela Gray, engagement officer with the Edinburgh Mela said the wildcat sculpture was "a hit" at last year's Edinburgh Mela.

The Scottish wildcat (felis silvestris grampia), a larger version of the European wildcat (felis silvestris silvestris), looks like a muscular tabby and is unique to Scotland. According to the Scottish Wildcat Association only 400 of these elusive creatures remain in the wild.

John o’keefe, SNH’s officer responsible for the project, commented: “This project was a wonderful, creative way for children to experience nature and different cultures and then show us all what they see and value. After the mela this fabulous feline will help visitors to the wildcat centre appreciate the beauty and importance of our last remaining native wild cat.”

The wildcat centre provides information about both the wildcat trail and the wildcat experience, the latter which has nearly 80 differently painted life size models of the animal round the village of Newtonmore and on its path, the wildcat trail.

Visitors set off on a quest to see how many they can find. The brochure which identifies all the cats, painted by local children and older residents, also provides a lot of information about the scottish wildcat and encourages people to find out more about this cat.

While the big cat sculpture is going to to start a new life in its traditional homeland, Edinburgh Zoo keeps a live wildcat (pictured above).