The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) announces a range of activities to mark the second annual Arabian Leopard Day, and inaugurates the first Arabian Leopard Week, from the grassroots to the mountaintops and billboards from UK to the US.
Led by the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) alongside its conservation partners, the events are geared to increase awareness of the leopards’ plight and build public support for actions to conserve the species.
Arabian Leopard Day is formally celebrated on February 10, but this year’s planned events extend before and after that date to launch the first ever Arabian Leopard Week to allow greater public participation and general awareness of the significance of the day.
The events include:
- An outdoor campaign to spread international awareness – an international outdoor advertising campaign will go live in the UK with a video highlighting the plight of the Arabian Leopard to go live on significant buildings including Piccadilly in London and NASDAQ in New York City
- A new 7-kilometre permanent trail at AlUla’s Sharaan Nature Reserve emphasising the connection between healthy habitats and healthy species. The ‘Arabian Leopard Celebration Trail’ is a collaboration of RCU and the Catmosphere foundation and is intended to be the first of a global network of Catwalk Trails. The AlUla community is invited to visit on February 11 and enjoy the trail’s sandy dunes, gentle escarpments and shaded gulleys
- An augmented-reality (AR) Snapchat Lens showing a simulated Arabian Leopard roaming the spectacular Hegra landmark Tomb of Lihyan Son of Kuza (also known as Qasr Al Farid)
- A digital exhibition in AlUla’s Ashar Valley with projections of the Arabian Leopard being beamed onto the surrounding Hijaz Mountains. The exhibition, a collaboration of RCU and Catmosphere, is open to the public on February 10 and 11
- Launch of a series of Deep Dive videos produced in partnership with Catmosphere from 10 February onwards, in Arabic and English, providing an overview of the Arabian Leopard and conservation efforts to save the species
Dr. Stephen Browne, Wildlife & Natural Heritage Executive Director at RCU, said: “The Arabian Leopard is a formidable symbol of our aim to conserve and safeguard AlUla’s natural environment. Unfortunately, the sad reality is that the Arabian Leopard is Critically Endangered with threats to its natural habitat highlighting the pressing need to step up conservation efforts that are so vital to the species’ long-term survival. It is our ongoing commitment to mark Arabian Leopard Day and engage with activities to raise awareness of, and help to protect, these magnificent big cats.”
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) ranks the Arabian Leopard as Critically Endangered in the wild, a level of risk more severe than Vulnerable or Endangered. If the population continues to decline, the next stages on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species are Extinct in the Wild and, lastly, Extinct.
Safeguarding the future of the Arabian Leopard is an objective closely linked with Saudi pride and identity. As more and more people become aware of the plight of the species and its role in our shared history, support for conservation efforts has grown across the Kingdom.
To prepare for the eventual return of Arabian Leopards to the wild, RCU has released native species of prey animals into vast nature reserves, increased efforts to track and protect wild leopards, and regenerated natural areas managed by teams of RCU-led and trained experts with the goal of restoring a lost yet essential balance to AlUla’s delicate ecosystems. The return of the Arabian Leopard will be the final piece of a sensitive and complicated puzzle.
And there have been successes along the way: RCU’s Arabian Leopard Breeding Programme has welcomed the births of four healthy cubs since April 2021, a major milestone and a welcome contribution to the goal of boosting the population in captivity. The naming of a cub born in 2022 as Amal – ‘hope’ in Arabic – symbolises the rising hopes to protect the future of the species.
For more info on Arabian Leopard Week, February 10 – 13 2023, go to https://www.experiencealula.com/en/alula-moments/alula-arabian-leopard-week