A CHARITY has reintroduced red squirrels on Scotland’s west coast in a bid to bolster the endangered woodland animal's numbers.

Trees for Life, a rewilding charity based in Scotland, has released six red squirrels into broadleaf woodland on the remote Drimnin Estate, Morvern peninsula near Oban, which overlooks the Isle of Mull.

The recent arrivals will help bolster Morvern’s existing population of reintroduced red squirrels, which has been growing since the charity released 21 of the woodland creatures at Lochaline in 2022.

There are an estimated 120,000 red squirrels remaining in Scotland as their numbers have been decimated by the reduction of their forest homes and competition from the introduced non-native grey squirrel.

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Red squirrels are non-existent from large parts of the Highlands and Islands despite the woodlands up north offering a safe place for them from grey squirrels as they avoid crossing large open spaces.

Sarah Woodfin, Trees for Life’s red squirrel project manager, hopes the reintroduced red squirrels will venture across the west coast of Scotland.

The National: One of the red squirrels reintroduced to the Drimnin Estate in Morvern

She said: “This new red squirrel population at Drimnin opens up a new chapter in this rewilding success story, which is offering hope for the long-term future of this much-loved and charismatic species.

“As long as tree cover continues to improve in the area, eventually these reintroduced reds should be able to move right around the coast all the way to neighbouring Ardnamurchan – helping secure a remnant population of red squirrels that has managed to hold on there.”

The charity has released 235 red squirrels across 12 sites in the northwest Highlands over the last eight years.

Trees for Life are hoping that in the coming years the 235 released squirrels will lead to a total population of more than 5000.

Rhonda Newsham, Drimnin Estate’s visitor manager, said: “We are tremendously excited to welcome these red squirrels, and feel honoured that Trees for Life and the volunteers from the squirrel donor sites have entrusted them to us.

“In this remote location, we hope the reds will be safe from many of the risks they can face elsewhere – with their offspring and those from neighbouring reintroductions able to thrive and create flourishing populations in woodlands right across the Morvern peninsula.”