Wildcats are back in the Netherlands centuries after disappearing

The rewilding of forests and other habitats in Germany and Belgium has triggered wildcats to return to the Netherlands.

The species had disappeared centuries ago in the country but conservationists have now announced it has returned to the forests of southern Netherlands.

The wildcat, which has a distinctive round-tipped and black-ringed tail, disappeared in the middle-ages due to hunting and forest clearance. According to Hettie Meertens, a biologist who works for the ARK conservation group, the return is a sign of the rewilding of forests in the southern Dutch region of Limburg.

“The population is small but it is increasing. The situation is fragile, but we are confident in the expansion,” Meertens said to the Guardian, referring both to numbers and the cats extending their territory to other parts of the Netherlands.

The conservation organisation is planning on counting the number of wildcats in 2022 using camera traps placed on trees.

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