February 10 is International Arabian Leopard Day and here is everything you need to know

February 10 is International Arabian Leopard Day and here is everything you need to know

Serving as a day to highlight the conservation efforts and the challenges faced by the Arabian Leopard species
09 February 24
International Arabian Leopard Day: February 10

Native to the region for an estimated half a million years, the Arabian Leopard is characterised by a pale, yellowed coat with a closely packed black and gold rosette pattern. It is also the smallest of the leopard species.

Each year on February 10, International Arabian Leopard Day is celebrated.

And this year, in collaboration with Catmosphere Now, you can celebrate and help to protect our native wild cat by joining the #CatWalkTrails in AlUla this Saturday. Volunteers, animal lovers and conservationists will be doing a 7 km trek dedicated to raising awareness for the critically endangered animal. The Arabian Leopard Celebration Trail winds through the beautiful Sharaan Nature Reserve, a protected area of 1500 kilometres squared.

Initiated by the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) in 2022, International Arabian Leopard Day has gained significant traction on the global stage when, in June 2023, the United Nations General Assembly officially designated February 10 as the International Day of the Arabian Leopard.

This important milestone underscored the urgency of RCU's conservation mission, and has encouraged a collective commitment to safeguarding the Kingdom's natural heritage and local animals, as local and international conservationists continue to battle against the species' extinction and habitat loss.

Currently classified as 'critically endangered' by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), concerted efforts are underway to ensure the survival of this unique big cat species. Despite its uncertain status, there remains hope for its conservation, with a number of government supported initiatives aimed at raising awareness and mobilising global support.

According to the RCU, there are several pivotal factors that have severely impacted the survival rate and natural habitat of the Arabian Leopard including:

  • Habitat Loss: The expansion of human settlements and agricultural activities is encroaching upon the leopards' natural habitat, resulting in reduced space and resources for their survival.
  • Depletion of Natural Prey: Over-hunting by humans has led to significant declines in populations of ibex, gazelles, and other prey animals. This has led to the leopards attempting to find alternative food sources, such as livestock, often resulting in conflicts with humans.
  • Human Persecution: Fear and misunderstanding can lead to direct persecution of leopards, resulting in actions such as poisoning, trapping, and shooting.
  • Inadequate Awareness and Protection: A lack of awareness about the plight of these leopards and insufficient protected areas which can lead to vulnerability.

In line with this year's 'Leap of Hope' campaign, tailored for International Arabian Leopard Day 2024, the RCU has launched several innovative approaches to encourage the youth to get involved, including the #CatWalkTrail and a specially designed 'Quest for Hope' gaming experience, which is being supported on a number of virtual platforms such as Roblox and Decentraland.

These activities are coupled with and supported by a number of other activations that aim to encourage participation and dialogue between organisations, locals and experts world wide.

The Royal Commission for AlUla has teamed up with several internationally respected conservation organisations to work to conserve and repopulate the Arabian Leopard in the Kingdom, through a breeding programme and biodiversity restoration.

And, in a massive win for the species, the Kingdom, AlUla specifically, welcomed seven new-born Arabian Leopards in November of 2023, the result of continued support and investment into the growth of the species in Saudi Arabia.

It is hoped that by marking International Arabian Leopard Day each year on February 10, that the efforts of the local and international communities can help protect the species in order to one day remove the big cat from the 'critically endangered' species list.

Learn more about the Arabian Leopard here