Saudi Arabia announced the successful birth of a new female Arabian leopard, in an important step toward preserving the endangered species, according to an announcement by the Kingdom’s Royal Commission for AlUla governorate.
According to the government institution, there are currently only 200 Arabian leopards left in the wild. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has officially rated the species as “critically endangered.”
“This birth is significant because it is one step further toward reviving the Arabian Leopard,” said Dr. Ahmed Almalki, Nature Reserves Director for the Royal Commission for AlUla.
Today we are celebrating the successful birth of an #ArabianLeopard cub, an important milestone in our journey to reintroduce this #Leopard species to its natural habitat in #AlUla and the wider region. #MeetOurCub and explore our work here: https://t.co/671K8dEfkk pic.twitter.com/PznVyTJVr3— الهيئة الملكية لمحافظة العلا (@RCU_SA) September 28, 2021
“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,” Almalki added.
The Arabian leopard is considered the smallest member of the leopard family and is believed to have first arrived in Arabia almost 500,000 years ago when it emerged out of Africa. Originally a mountain animal, now it is considered the only true desert leopard.
According to the RCU, the female cub was born on April 23. Her gender identification and first health check took place on July 13. The cub is now one of 16 born in a captive-breeding program at the Arabian Leopard Breeding Center in Taif, Saudi Arabia as part of a campaign to bring the animal back from near extinction.