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Saudi Arabia leads celebrations for the first International Day for the Arabian Leopard

February 11, 2024 at 2:04 pm

Arabian leopard [Land Rover Our Planet/Flickr]

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.

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.

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.

READ: Saudi Arabia welcomes birth of 2 Arabian leopards

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.

“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.

READ: 3 rare Arabian Leopards spotted in Oman’s Dhofar