Riyadh — Saudi Arabia designated the 10th of February as the Arabian Leopard day, announced the Council of Ministers on Tuesday. The move will help spread awareness and to define the preservation goals of the Global Arabian Leopard Fund.
In December 2020, Minister of Culture Prince Badr Bin Farhan, governor of the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU), said; “With the guidance and support of the Crown Prince, the Royal Commission for AlUla Governorate established the Global Fund to Protect the Arabian Leopard; from Extinction in Sharaan Protectorate in AlUla.
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According to RCU, the mission of the Global Fund for the Conservation of the Arabian Leopard is “to ensure a sustainable, viable population of the Arabian Leopard, its wild prey; and natural habitats in coexistence with local communities.”
“No accurate count of the total Arabian Leopards surviving in the wild exists, but the total adult population is probably lower than 250, perhaps low as 100.
“These remaining populations are small, isolated, fragmented, and under threat. For example, Saudi Arabia probably has fewer than 50 adult Arabian Leopards remaining, and it is possible that no breeding nucleus persists.”
The IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, classifies the Arabian Leopard as a critically endangered species. The remnant populations are small and isolated due to the loss of their natural habitat and poaching over the years.
RCU has developed a strategy to conserve the Arabian Leopard, which includes a variety of initiatives; and expansion of the breeding program through the opening of the Arabian Leopard Fund.
Additionally, it plans to strengthen its partnerships with institutions conserving natural resources; such as the IUCN and the Saudi Green initiative to develop 80% of AlUla’s area as natural reserves.
The Sharaan Reserve will restore and preserve wild plants, and animals, on an area of 1,560 square kilometers. The initiatives to protect the Arabian Leopard included the resettlement of wild species such as the Nubian ibex and Mountain gazelle and training in AlUla to preserve nature reserves.
As good news, The Royal Commission for AlUla Governorate announced the birth of a new female Arabian Leopard in September 2021. A silver lining for the preservation of endangered animals.