The Royal Commission of AlUla signed a memorandum of understanding with cat conservation foundation Catmosphere to join efforts toward protecting the Arabian leopard, the commission announced on Thursday.
As Saudi Arabia marked its first Arabian Leopard Day, the MoU was signed by Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al Saud, governor of the Royal Commission for AlUla, and Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, the founder of Catmosphere and the Kingdom’s current ambassador to the US.
According to the Royal Commission of AlUla, there are fewer than 200 Arabian leopards left in the wild.
The Arabian leopard, which is the smallest member of the leopard family, arrived in Arabia around 500,000 years ago from Africa, and it’s rated as “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The commission stated that the MoU aims to widen “networks of knowledge partners, sustainability experts and leaders in the conservation space to raise awareness about the plight of big cats.”
It also seeks to codevelop “community engagement initiatives” to motivate public support toward the protection of the Arabian leopard.
On its website, Catmosphere says it has two objectives: “to raise awareness for crucial work in big cat conservation; and to produce inspiring campaigns sharing stories and facts about conservation of big cats.”
In September, the commission announced the successful birth of a new female Arabian leopard, marking an important step toward preserving the endangered species. The female cub was born on April 23, and at the time was one of 16 in a captive-breeding program at the Arabian Leopard Breeding Center in the Kingdom’s Taif.
Prince Badr, who is also the country’s minister of culture, stressed the importance of safeguarding Arabian leopards.
“We will not stand idly by until it is extinct. Protecting the Arabian Leopard is a priority,” Prince Badr wrote in a tweet after signing the agreement.