A pair of wildcat kittens have been rescued after they were found alone in the Scottish Highlands.
The kittens, which are believed to be less than eight weeks old, were found near a road in the Cairngorms, but no mother could be found.
They are now being looked after by conservation group Wildcat Haven, which is caring for them until they are old enough to be released back into the wild.
The discovery gives the world’s rarest cat species – which is under threat – new hope, with hope that the kittens could boost the UK’s wildcat population.
Wildcat Haven’s chief scientific adviser Dr Paul O’Donoghue told The i he did not expect the kittens to be genuine wildcats and ‘almost fell off his chair’ when he saw the photos.
“The markings looked amazing, far better than any kitten I’d seen in a zoo, but in a very exposed place. It seemed likely they had been abandoned or orphaned and were in grave danger,” he said.
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The conservationists told how they had to make sure the kittens’ mother had abandoned them before they could rescue the kittens, who turned into “spitting balls of fury” once they had been fed and given water.
The kittens are being kept in a purpose-built wildcat rescue facility, where they are expected to stay for up to four months before being reintroduced to the wild near where they were found.