The Cat Survival Trust was registered as a charity in 1976. Its original purpose was to promote the conservation of wild cats by breeding them in captivity and subsequently releasing them into suitable wild situations. Later it was realised that this was not the best way to go about conserving the animals; suitable wild habitat already had a population of cats and the habitat itself was disappearing with alarming rapidity. It also costs about £30,000 to release one cat into the wild and even then there is only a 15% chance that it will survive to breed.
The Trust purchased a 10,000 acre reserve in north east Argentina which conserves the entire habitat where cats live. This is not only more cost-effective but involves the conservation of all the plants, animals and fungi that make up the ecosystem on which the cats depend.
This first reserve was bought in pursuit of this new policy in Misiones, Argentina. There are five species of cats (about 40 individuals) living there in an area of virgin forest and funds are being sought to enable the reserve to be expanded so that jaguars, which vanished from the area about 80 years ago, can be reintroduced. The reserve was, until recently, managed by a charity set up for the purpose in Argentina, the Fundación Selva Misionera, or Mission Rainforest Foundation. It has now been adopted by the government of Misiones as a Provincial Park and is a partnership between the charity and the government.
The Trust is now planning to purchase more natural habitat to create more protected areas. If our plans are successful, these new reserves will be located in seven different countries and will add substantially to the number of cat species protected on land bought by the Trust.
The Trust also acts as a rescue organisation for "unwanted" cats from zoos and other collections. It currently cares for about 40 cats at its headquarters in Hertfordshire, England, many of which are rescued animals, and the Trust desperately needs to build accomodation for more. The cats are not on public view, but Trust members and educational groups can visit by appointment.