The European Wildcat has been chosen by the Swiss wildlife conservation organisation Pro Natura as its Animal of Year in 2020. The Swiss Fisheries Association has bestowed a similar honour on the trout.
Pro Naturaexternal link’s choice of the wildcat reflects the animal’s revival from near extinction to gaining a toehold in the Swiss forests of the Jura mountains in the northwest of the country. From there it is hoped the furtive creature can spread to central Switzerland and the foothills of the Alps.
Conservationists have redoubled their efforts to keep track of health of the wildcat populations by analysing hairs that they leave behind whilst marking their territories – typically several square kilometres for each of the solitary animals.
The Swiss Fisheries Associationexternal link, on the other hand, is highlighting the declining fortunes of the trout. Once common in Swiss waterways, anglers are now reporting an alarming drop in numbers of the speckled fish.
A multitude of factors is believed to be behind the decline in trout stocks: rivers being diverted for human use, increased pollution from sewage, pesticides and manure, climate change raising water temperatures and drying out waterways plus the threat of fish-eating birds such as cormorants.