Animal Travels: Scotland

Scotland probably isn’t a place you think of when you think of wildlife, but with over 30,090 square miles of space there are plenty of species to see.

(Fratercula arctica)
AtlanticPuffin-JimParis.JPGThe Atlantic Puffin is a small sized bird with a wingspan of 47-63cm and is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List. Their current population trend is decreasing and there are currently between 9,550,00 and 11,600,000 mature individuals remaining in the wild.

They are exclusively marine and are found on rocky coasts and offshore islands; nesting on grassy slopes, sea cliffs and rocky slopes.

The Atlantic Puffin is facing some threats to their survival; they are highly susceptible to the impacts of climate change such as the rise of sea temperatures. They are also vulnerable to oil spills and other marine pollution. Extreme weather evens and storms also pose a threat to the Atlantic Puffins. These Puffins can also get caught in gillnets and other fishing gear and they are vulnerable to invasive predators such as rats and cats at their breeding colonies. Also, in places such as Iceland and the Faroe Islands they are hunting for human consumption.

To help save the Atlantic Puffin, they are listed under the African Eurasian Waterbird Agreement.

(Lutra lutra)
shutterstock_81397669-1240x660.jpgThe Eurasian Otter is listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List with a current declining population trend.

These otters can be found in aquatic habitats including highland and lowland lakes, rivers, streams and marshes. They are historically hunted for the pelts and for use as food. However, their major threats come from pollution, drowning and road kills. Their habitats are also extremely vulnerable to man made changes such as the canalisation of rivers.

Eurasian Otters are listed on Appendix I of CITES and they are also a species in the European Breeding Programme (EEP) for self-sustaining captive populations.

(Aquila chrysaetos)
golden_eagel_01.jpgThe Golden Eagle is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List with around 200,000 mature individuals and stable population.

They can be found in flat or mountainous open habitats, often above the tree line. They have a very broad diet and will take mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and amphibians depending on the prey availability. They were heavily persecuted in the nineteenth century and today they are still deliberately shot, trapped and poisoned.

(Meles meles)
140506.jpgThe Eurasian Badger is classified as Least Concern and they currently have a stable population.

The Eurasian Badger prefers deciduous woods with clearings, or open pastureland with small patches of woodland. They can also be found in mixed and coniferous woodland, scrub, suburban and urban parks. Land use changes are causing a loss of suitable habitat for the badgers and they are sometimes persecuted as pests. For example, in the UK they are associated with Bovine TB and this has led to a cull of the badger population. They are also occasionally killed as a by catch of fox hunting.

The Eurasian Badger is listed on Appendix III of the Bern Convention and they are also listed on Schedule 6 of the United Kingdom Wildlife and Countryside Act and they are listed under the Protection of Badgers Act.

(Cervus elaphus)
lyme-park.jpgThe Red Deer is listed as Least Concern and they currently have an increasing population trend. They inhabit open deciduous woodland, upland moors and open mountainous areas. However, they have been known to prefer broadleaved woodland that is interspersed with large meadows.

They are facing threats from overhunting, habitat loss and the intermixing of various subspecies. However, they are protected under Appendix III of the Bern Convention.

(Sciurus vulgaris)
red_squirrel.jpgRed Squirrels are classified as Least Concern but they do have a declining population. They are the most abundant in large tracts of coniferous forest and they also occur in deciduous woods, mixed forests, parks and gardens.

Habitat loss and fragmentation is a threat to the red squirrel. However, their main threat comes from Grey Squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) who not only out-compete the red squirrels for food and space; but they also carry the parapox virus which is highly pathogenic to red squirrels, without affected the grey squirrels. Luckily, the red squirrel lives in many protected areas throughout its range.

(Tetrao urogallus)
Capercaillie.jpgThe Capercaillie is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List. Their current population is decreasing and they were reintroduced to the UK. They inhabit forest and woodland but prefer areas of old and shady forest with damp soil. The Capercaillie is a lekking species and so the males need to protect a small territory to earn mating opportunities.

Capercaillies are still commonly hunted and face predation from foxes. They are also facing trouble from the destruction or alteration of their woodland habitat.

(Felis silvestris)
Scottish-wildcat-MS3000TIFF.jpgWildcats are classed as Least Concern but their population trend is decreasing. They are found in scrub grassland to dry and mixed forests. Rodents such as rats are the staple part of their diet.

Wildcats face threats by domestic cats as they also compete with wildcats for prey and space and there is also a high potential for disease transmission between the domestic cats and the wildcats. Other threats come from human interactions such as road kills.

Wildcats are included on CITES Appendix II and are fully protected across their European range.

Click here for more Animal Travels.


Images courtesy of: