The wildcat is making a comeback, particularly in the southeast of the province of Noord-Brabant. The animal was spotted in the nature reserve of Strabrechtse Heide, near Eindhoven. The conservation organization ARK Rewilding, in collaboration with Natuurmonumenten, Staatsbosbeheer, and the Dutch Mammal Society, is working to improve a habitat in Brabant for the wildcat. They are also creating connecting pathways from Belgium and Zuid-Limburg. According to ARK, the presence of a wildcat, a protected predator, provides an ecological boost to other species of plants and animals.
The wildcat likely disappeared from the Netherlands around the medieval period. The species was spotted again in Zuid-Limburg at the beginning of this century. Around the village of Vijlen, 15 to 20 wildcats have since settled. The animal prefers old forests and hunts in grasslands and shrubs for its favorite food, mice.
A wildcat is not a pet, emphasizes ARK, although it closely resembles the tabby, the average domestic cat. The two species are hard to distinguish. A wildcat has a stripe on its back that stops at its tail. Its tail is much thicker than a domestic cat’s and ends in a blunt point.
With the support of the province of Noord-Brabant, conservation organizations are working to enhance the biodiversity along the edges of the forests in Strabrechtse Heide. Grasslands are also being mowed less intensively. Nature reserves in Belgium, Zuid-Limburg, and Zuidoost-Brabant are being interconnected through small paths and passages. The project is set to run for several years. The Dutch Mammal Society believes that if the measures are successful, wildcats from Belgium will be the first to settle in Brabant. It is not inconceivable that these predators might spread further throughout the Netherlands from Brabant.
Reporting by ANP