Of wildcats and wild cats: troubling species-based conservation in the Anthropocene

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This article takes the case of Scottish wildcats, threatened with extinction through hybridisation with feral domestic cats, as a site for exploring what it means to conserve a species as such. To this end, the article looks at the practices associated with conserving Scottish wildcats as defined by a definite phenotypical, morphological and/or genetic type, abstracted from indefinite, fleshy organisms emplaced and entangled within changing ecologies. The article describes the biopolitical work of taxonomically distinguishing wildcats (Felis silvestris) from domestic cats (Felis catus) and their hybrids, exploring the challenges presented to this work by the disorderly agencies of wild-living cats. It then outlines and reflects on the proposed captive breeding programme aimed at preserving the 'pure' Scottish wildcat sub-species type. This case highlights the ways in which species-based conservation can conflict with care for individual animals as well as with life's immanent, generative tendencies
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • conservation biology
  • Scottish wildcats
  • biopolitics
  • inventive life
  • species
  • hybridisation

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


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