Saturday 17 February 2024

Remote island of Taransay to be returned to its natural condition with Scottish wildcats

NEWS AND VIEWS: This is a story about a castaway island of the Isle of Harris in the north-west tip of Scotland called Taransay which, by the way, is where the television series Castaway was filmed starring Ben Fogle.

The island was bought by Adam and Cathra Kelliher in 2011. Adam Kelliher said:
"Our vision is to take the island back to the pre-intensive grazing, back to the Bronze Age. It will be covered by Atlantic rainforest. We are not talking about the Scottish straight pine, we are talking about a myriad of deciduous trees that thrived in the past."
The island is about 5 miles long by about 3 miles wide at its maximum width. It is a mystical place where visitors can renew their roots and connect with nature. It is said that people who visit Taransay leave it with a different attitude about life. It solitude, it's sense of nature, its quietness and tranquillity are all said to affect people deeply.

Remote island of Taransay to be returned to its natural condition with Scottish wild cats
Beautiful Taransay where the Scottish wildcat may one day roam again.

And the vision of the Kellihers is to populate the island with trees, heather and flowers, mammals including deer, wild cattle, ponies, pigs, beaver, elks and as mentioned Scottish wildcats. A very grand scheme which if it works out at all will take many years.

Scottish wildcat

But, of course, what I like to see here is reference to the Scottish wildcat. This is a mammal which has been declared extinct because they say that the existing Scottish wildcats are in fact hybrids, the result of a matings between feral tabby cats and a genuine Scottish wildcats.

It is argue that there are no purebred Scottish wildcat left but having said that, it would be lovely to give them an island of about 15 mi² where they can thrive, where they can be be left alone. The only place where you might be lucky enough to see a Scottish wildcat currently is in Scotland but they were described as 'wildcats' in the past and they were present in the south of England.

The Scottish wildcat actually is the European Wildcat it's just that the Scots like to claim the species as their own!😀

Cathra Kelliher said that:
"People get quite emotional when they visit. There is something fundamental about your feet on those rocks, the feel of the Atlantic on your skin. It strips you of everything you don't need and you are left with just the core of what you are."
I think she describes it very, very nicely indeed. It is great to get back to your roots to the core of you, to connect with nature. I can see this island being a great attraction to many people in the future as the world becomes more and more complicated and arguably more more messed up with bad world leadership, climate change, and wars!

Management needed

In 2019 they took all the sheep off Taransay and there was an immediate explosion of flowers and wildlife but the grasses grew taller because there were no mammals to eat the grass. It isn't just about leaving things alone according to Adam Kelliher, it's about managing nature as well. I wish him well. If it goes well I might visit the place one day! 


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

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