In a rare sighting, three critically endangered Arabian leopards have been seen together in Oman’s Dhofar Governorate.
As reported yesterday by the Times of Oman, the Environment Authority (EA) announced for the first time since it started monitoring wildlife, that three adult Arabian leopards were sighted by camera traps walking together in the mountainous region.
Represented by the Arabian Leopard Conservation Project Management Team, the EA described the precedent as rare, noting the difficulty in monitoring the species in the wild, due to their declining numbers.
For the first time since it started monitoring wildlife, the Environment Authority reported that its cameras spotted three adult Arabian leopards walking together in one of the mountains of the Dhofar Governorate.#arabiandaily #oman #omannews #dhofar #threearabianleopards pic.twitter.com/hGvSINQabl
— Arabian Daily (@arabiandailys) October 18, 2023
An official from the authority said: “The team overseeing this project is analysing the data thoroughly to deepen scientific studies and conduct precise field surveys. The aim is to better understand the behaviour of this elusive animal and verify whether the leopards sighted belong to the same family.”
“EA’s efforts are designed to adapt the Arabian Leopard Project’s management strategy to protect this critically endangered species from extinction.”
The Arabian leopard is legally protected in the Sultanate, in accordance with Ministerial Decree 101/02 and several Royal Decrees making it a criminal offence to hunt or capture the animal, with penalties including a maximum five-year prison sentence and fines of up to $13,000 (RO 5,000).
Of the eight leopard subspecies, the Arabian leopard is considered among the rarest with less than 200 in the wild. According to Muscat Daily, there are between 44 and 58 in Oman.
Last year, Saudi Arabia declared 10 February as Arabian Leopard Day as part of conversation efforts to raise awareness of the endangered big cat. The decision was adopted by the UN which recognised “the significant efforts towards restoring the Arabian leopard as a flagship species for nature conservation and sustainability on the Arabian Peninsula,” adding that conservation efforts “will profoundly benefit the nature of the ecosystem.”