Saudi Arabia has been leading global celebrations marking the inaugural UN-recognised International Day for the Arabian Leopard with a series of programmes and events aimed at spreading awareness on conserving the endangered species.
في #يوم_النمر_العربي يشكل هذا الكائن رمزاً ثقافياً وبيئياً وجمالياً في ذاكرة شبه الجزيرة العربية، وثراء في الأدب العربي، مايعتبر أحد أبرز محفزات مضاعفة الجهود الجماعية لإعادة إحياء هذا الإرث الطبيعي والثقافي، وتأصيل الوعي البيئي بأهميته في الذاكرة الجَمْعيّة.#النمر_العربي… pic.twitter.com/tvK8WvqhTI
— المركز الوطني لتنمية الحياة الفطرية (@NCW_center) February 10, 2024
One event, the Catwalk, a 7km walk to highlight conservation efforts for the big cat was organised by Catmosphere which was founded by Saudi Ambassador to the US Princess Reema bint Bandar, alongside the Royal Commission for AlUla and was held in various cities in the kingdom and other world capitals, spearheaded by Saudi embassies. The distance highlights the plight of the seven species of big cats.
— Catmosphere (@catmospherenow) February 10, 2024
— Arabia Saudita in Italia السفارةالسعوديةفي إيطاليا (@KSAembassyIT) February 10, 2024
According to Arab News, the day has been marked by Saudi Arabia for the last three years, but this year was the first time it was celebrated around the world, after Catmosphere and the Arabian Leopard Fund collaborated with the Saudi Mission to the UN in New York to gain international recognition for the day on 10 February each year.
Join @FocusedConserve in raising awareness to the Arabian Leopard. With only 200 remaining in the wild, it's nearing extinction. We joined our partners today at @catmospherenow in Kenya for a Catwalk to raise awareness. https://t.co/wNdCgG5t0v pic.twitter.com/lGwAd5nmQv
— Focused Conservation (@FocusedConserve) February 10, 2024
Last year the the UN General Assembly adopted by a resolution to mark the day annually. It will be celebrated for the first time at UN Headquarters in New York tomorrow.
بمناسبة #اليوم_العالمي_للنمر_العربي نظمت سفارة المملكة العربية السعودية في نيودلهي اليوم مسيرة #Catwalk2024: وهي مبادرة أطلقتها @catmospherenow لرفع مستوى الوعي حول جهود الحفاظ على #النمر_العربي. pic.twitter.com/lj5fSNwPBU
— Saudi Embassy in New Delhi (@KSAembassyIND) February 10, 2024
“By celebrating this Day, the UN ultimately seeks to restore the Arabian leopard as a flagship species for conservation and sustainability in its native region while emphasizing the critical role of biodiversity in maintaining the health and resilience of our planet’s ecosystems,” the UN website states.
“The resolution calls for enhanced conservation efforts by Arabian range states, relevant stakeholders like NGOs and communities, and UN agencies.”
“Observing this International Day will promote much-needed attention for the Arabian leopard and galvanize public engagement in conservation initiatives aimed at restoring leopard populations and other endangered species for the benefit of ecosystems,” it adds.
The smallest Leopard subspecies, the Arabian Leopard is native to the Arabian Peninsula and is classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN, with possibly fewer than 200 alive in the wild today in isolated pockets in Oman, Yemen and possibly Saudi Arabia. As of 2022 there are 2 ongoing captive breeding programs in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.