Other Mammals

In addition to European beavers,  red squirrels, wildcats and water voles, the Foundation is involved with, or interested in, a range of mammals, particularly with regard to their role in the functioning of natural ecosystems or with the need for reintroduction or translocation in the UK.

Wolf (Canis lupus)

A number of ecological and socio-economic studies have been carried out regarding the potential reintroduction of wolves to Scotland.  It is clear that we have plenty of suitable habitat in the Highlands.  There has been no natural predator for deer in Scotland since wolves became extinct and, as such, red deer are now present in much higher densities that in former times.  This has led to massive overgrazing.  The reintroduction of an apex predator such as the wolf would help to restore the natural balance and benefit the whole ecosystem.   Despite being first proposed in the late 1960s and the fact that we are required by EU law to address the potential for reintroduction, the government has made no movements towards considering wolf reintroduction. We believe that wolf reintroduction could be carried out and would add major benefits to large ecosystem recovery. It would also demonstrate Scotland’s commitment to global ecosystems. Too often we expect third world countries to provide habitats for species that can be difficult neighbours for humans.  For an interesting insight into this fascinating subject, read Jim Crumley’s superb book ‘The Last Wolf’,  Birlinn Press, 2010.


Wild boar (Sus scrofa)

Wild boar were driven to extinction in the UK approximately 400 years ago, through hunting and habitat loss.  They have made a comeback in recent years through individuals that escaped from farms, and are now present in good numbers in Kent and in other areas such as The Forest of Dean in England.  Small numbers of escaped boar occur in Scotland  but they are missing from large areas of  Scotland where they were once present and are one of the species that we believe should be considered restored. Wild boar root around in the soil and turn it over, creating new areas for seed germination.  As such, they play a crucial role in the ecosystems in which they are present, especially in area rife with bracken.

We have been involved in the use of wild boar for habitat manipulation in fenced enclosures on Alladale Estate..


Traditional Cattle

Photo by Laurie Campbell

We have been very involved in extolling the positive values of using native cattle to benefit nature conservation, especially within woodlands.  We are a great supporter of increasing the numbers and range of traditional cattle because we believe they are essential for habitat restoration and the functioning of ecosystems in the UK. We are actively promoting  the formation of ‘wild’ herds of cattle, including Highland Cattle, in the Highlands for ecosytem services and to maintain unmanipulated cattle gene stocks.

To view our document on the importance of wild cattle click on the following link:

The importance of traditional cattle for woodland biodiversity in the Scottish Highlands


 European Elk (Alces alces)

The European elk is the largest species of the deer family.  Known as the moose in North America, it is present in large numbers in Europe throughout Sweden, Norway, Poland, Finland and the Baltic States, and in lower numbers in the Ukraine, Czech Republic and Belarus.  It was hunted to extinction in the UK.  We are advocates of rewilding Scotland and believe that the elk is one of the species that should be restored to the Scottish Highlands.  They browse on both terrestrial and aquatic vegetation and help to maintain a diverse forest structure.  Indeed, the elk is sometimes regarded as a keystone species due to the way in which it manipulates the ecosystem and creates habitat for other species.