Saudi Arabia is welcoming the birth of an Arabian leopard cub. The birth is a sign that the nation’s captive breeding program is working to save the critically endangered species.
Last week we reported on the plight of Arabian leopards, the smallest of the eight extant varieties of leopards. The leopards have been exterminated in most of their historic range. Oman is home to the largest wild population. Omani officials and residents are working to save the remaining leopards. Saudi Arabia, which is not believed to have any leopards, is now working to restore the species. It is not known what the status of the leopard is in war-torn Yemen.
Saudi Arabia has established an Arabian Leopard Breeding Center near the city of Taif. The center is now home to the female cub, who was born some months ago, and 15 of her kind. The Saudi government will establish a protected reserve in the north west of the country. The reserve will be established near AlUla with the leopards in mind to increase their ability to survive. AlUla is the region surrounding an ancient city and is rich in history. The government has allocated $25 million to leopard programs and has created an Arabian Leopard Fund. The fund will help establish an ambitious recovery program. The program wil involve aspects from law enforcement and captive breeding to international conservation partnerships and public education.
In Arabic, leopards are known as An nimr ‘Al Arabi’ and are memorialized in art and language. Saudis revere the leopards for their strength, power grac, and courage, Unfortunately even though many countries revere their big and small wild cats that has not stopped people from driving them to near extinction.