Catmosphere, RCU sign MoU to protect Arabian leopard the symbol of national pride in Saudi Arabia and the region.
Alula: Iconic buildings and historic landmarks in Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the UAE will light up this evening to mark the first-ever Arabian Leopard Day.
Stunning illuminations, inspired by the majestic but critically endangered big cats, will be simultaneously projected on Riyadh’s King Faisal Foundation building, Jeddah’s King Road Tower, Adeer Tower in Al Khobar, Elephant Rock in AlUla, plus Burj Khalifa, and KSA’s Expo 2020 pavilion in Dubai as well as a highly prominent electronic billboard on Sultan Qaboos University Road in Muscat, Oman.
Recommended: The Most Endangered Animals in Saudi Arabia
Regionally the Arabian Leopard Day is being marked with school and social media outreach to celebrate the day. Multiple government entities across the kingdom will display the official Arabian Leopard Day logo on their websites and social media on Thursday.
In a significant step forward, the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) on Thursday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Catmosphere foundation to strengthen regional efforts to protect the future of the Arabian Leopard.
RCU and Catmosphere will work closely on a series of sustainable and innovative events, campaigns; and outreach initiatives research with the shared goal of safeguarding the future of the Arabian leopard; a symbol of national pride in Saudi Arabia and around the region.
The inaugural Arabian Leopard Day highlights the desperate plight of the species; which once freely roamed the Peninsula but today remain restricted to small; scattered populations in Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Yemen.
Prince Badr said: “The signing of the MoU supports RCU’s Arabian Leopard conservation program; which is at the heart of extensive sustainable development plans for the wider AlUla region.
This agreement also significantly strengthens existing partnerships with entities concerned with the conservation of natural fauna and flora; including the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).”
Princess Reema said: “The signing of this new MoU supports Catmosphere’s mission to secure a future for Big Cats, including the Arabian Leopard. It builds momentum around regional conservation efforts with a focus on supporting RCU; as it strives to achieve its far-reaching ambitions to reintroduce the species to the wild.”
Amr AlMadani, the CEO of the Royal Commission for AlUla, said; “The Arabian leopard is a powerful symbol of RCU’s aim to conserve and safeguard AlUla’s natural environment. It is a sad reality that the Arabian leopard is critically endangered.
Ongoing threats to its natural habitat highlight the pressing need to step up conservation efforts vital to the species’ long-term survival. We want people to mark Arabian Leopard Day and engage with activities to raise awareness of; and help to protect, these regal cats.”
The Arabian leopard is emblematic of Saudi Arabia and RCU’s extensive environmental sustainability ambitions.
Recommended: Earth’s most adorable animals nearing extinction
The species occupies a unique place in the collective consciousness and imagination of the region; images of the big cat found in ancient rock art have inspired folk tales and contemporary everyday expressions.
With hardly 200 or fewer individuals remaining in the wild, the Arabian leopard is listed as critically endangered by the IUCN. The creature is at an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.
Last year’s birth of a female cub at the Arabian Leopard Breeding Center in Taif, Saudi Arabia; highlighted the excellent potential for reintroducing the species into the wilderness and mountains around AlUla and beyond. However long and challenging the road, efforts will continue to establish a protected habitat to restore the population.
RCU, which is regenerating a 22,561km2 area of northwest Saudi Arabia as a global destination for natural and cultural heritage; has committed USD 25 million to the Arabian Leopard Fund; an independent organization created to implement conservation projects across the leopard’s home range.
Recommended: Coffee and Cats: Saudi Arabia’s First Cat Cafe
RCU has designated five nature reserves covering 12,500km2 and will be working with leading experts such as Panthera and IUCN to activate; conserve and safeguard these protected areas with a vision that leopards might someday roam free again.
Saudi Arabia’s Council of Ministers has designated 10 February as Arabian Leopard Day.