Saudi Arabia marks first International Day for the Arabian Leopard with conservation efforts

Saudi Arabia celebrated the first International Day for the Arabian Leopard on February 10, 2024, highlighting its leading role in protecting and preserving the critically endangered species.

The International Day for the Arabian Leopard was established by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2023, following a proposal by Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Arabian Peninsula. The day aims to raise awareness and mobilize action for the conservation of the Arabian Leopard, which is the smallest and rarest subspecies of leopard in the world.

The Arabian Leopard, which is native to Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates, faces severe threats from habitat loss, poaching, and human-wildlife conflict. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), there are fewer than 200 Arabian Leopards left in the wild, and the species is classified as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List.

The International Day for the Arabian Leopard is an opportunity to celebrate the beauty and uniqueness of the species, as well as to highlight the challenges and solutions for its survival. The day also recognizes the efforts and achievements of the countries, organizations, and individuals who are working to protect and restore the Arabian Leopard population and its habitat.

A pioneering role by Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has been at the forefront of the conservation of the Arabian Leopard, through the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU), which launched the dedicated Arabian Leopard Program in 2019. The program aims to ensure the survival and recovery of the species, and to reintroduce it into its natural habitat in the AlUla region, where it was once abundant.

The program includes a comprehensive strategy that covers breeding, research, education, and habitat restoration. One of the program’s notable successes has been the establishment of a state-of-the-art breeding center in Taif, which has already seen the birth of several leopard cubs, signaling hope for the species’ future.

The program also works closely with local and international partners, such as the Saudi Wildlife Authority, the Global Wildlife Conservation, and the Panthera Corporation, to share knowledge and expertise, and to coordinate conservation efforts. The program also engages with the local communities and the public, to raise awareness and foster support for the Arabian Leopard and its environment.

A series of celebrations across the Kingdom

To mark the first International Day for the Arabian Leopard, Saudi Arabia organized a series of events and campaigns across the Kingdom, designed to showcase the species and its conservation. These included:

  • A special exhibition at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) in Dhahran, featuring photos, videos, and information about the Arabian Leopard and its habitat, as well as interactive activities and workshops for visitors.
  • A live broadcast from the Taif breeding center, where viewers could watch the leopard cubs and their parents, and learn more about the breeding program and its achievements.
  • A social media campaign, using the hashtag #ArabianLeopardDay, to spread awareness and appreciation for the species, and to encourage people to join the conservation efforts and adopt a leopard.
  • A documentary film, produced by the RCU and the National Geographic, showcasing the beauty and diversity of the AlUla region, and the efforts to restore the Arabian Leopard population there.

The celebrations were met with positive responses and feedback from the public, who expressed their admiration and support for the Arabian Leopard and its conservation. The celebrations also drew attention and praise from the international community, who commended Saudi Arabia for its leadership and commitment to wildlife conservation.

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