Cunninghame North MSP Kenneth Gibson has called for the Eurasian lynx to be reintroduced to Scotland.

The animal has been extinct in Britain for over 500 years, but conservationists have seen a recent surge in support to bring the predator back into the country.

The big cat has been successfully reintroduced in Spain in recent years, and the MSP believes a similar scheme would be beneficial in the Scottish Highlands.

Speaking in Holyrood, Mr Gibson said: “We live in a country that is among the most nature-depleted in the world and worldwide biodiversity is declining faster than at any time in human history.

“However, recent years have seen some notable improvements and increased awareness, hunting bans and habitat restoration have resulted in a gradual return of many native species.

“Here, the reintroduction of beavers, ospreys and sea eagles, and action to save wildcats and otters, are all very positive measures that show a commitment to conservation.

“However, any debate on biodiversity cannot ignore the fact that the UK is one of the few countries in Europe with no apex predators.

“Research has confirmed that our Highlands have enough habitat and suitable prey to support a population of around 400 lynx.

“Reintroducing the Eurasian lynx is not only morally right but would contribute to nutrient recycling and carcase provision for other species, as well as the regeneration of vegetation and trees.”

Edward Mountain, MSP for the Highlands and Islands, says he would not like to see the animal reintroduced in Scotland.

He said: “Lynx have been away from this country for 500 years, and now is just not the time to bring them back.

“As far as I can see, as an MSP who represents the Cairngorms, there is no appetite for the reintroduction of lynx.”