Birth of endangered Arabian leopard cub gives hope to conservationists
The birth of a rare Arabian leopard cub in Saudi Arabia has given hopes of a revival of the 'critically endangered’ species.
The female cub is now one of 16 born as part of a captive-breeding programme at the Arabian Leopard Breeding Center in Taif, located in the North West region of Saudi Arabia.
It is part of a campaign to bring the animal back from near extinction. There are fewer than 200 in the wild after centuries of habitat loss and poaching.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) says the species is “critically endangered.”
The Arabian leopard is the smallest member of the leopard family and arrived in Arabia almost 500,000 years ago, emerging out of Africa. It can be found in the wild in Oman, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
Dr Ahmed Almalki, Nature Reserves Director for the Royal Commission (RCU) for AlUla, said: “This birth is significant because it is one step further toward reviving the Arabian leopard.
"We believe that saving endangered species such as the Arabian Leopard is critical to the protection of our planet and the natural balance of our ecosystem. Our goal at RCU is nothing less than to restore the power of nature’s balance.”
The leopards will eventually be reintroduced into the wilderness in the mountains of AlUla by restoring the population through the breeding programme and by creating suitable habitats.