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It’s a Girl! Saudi Arabia Announces Birth of Critically Endangered Leopard
The now 5-month-old cub is one of 16 leopards in AlUla’s Arabian Leopard Breeding program. (Royal Commission for AlUla)

It’s a Girl! Saudi Arabia Announces Birth of Critically Endangered Leopard

Saudi Arabia’s Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) announced on Tuesday the birth of a female Arabian leopard cub, offering hope for the revival of this critically endangered subspecies. The cub was born on April 23. She is 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 animals back from near extinction. They will eventually be reintroduced into the wild in the mountains of AlUla, where a suitable habitat in which they can thrive is being prepared. Naturally, they’ll need something to eat, so prey species, such as the Nubian ibex and Idmi gazelle, will also be reintroduced into the area. The Arabian leopard, the largest cat in the Arabian Peninsula, is the smallest leopard subspecies: Adult males weigh around 30 kilograms and adult females around 20 kilos. Fewer than 200 individuals remain in the wild, in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen, and possibly Israel, where the last observation of a leopard in the wild occurred in the northern Arava region in 2010/2011. The Arabian leopard’s habitat previously spanned the Arabian and Sinai peninsulas and the Levant. RCU, which operates the breeding center, was established in July 2017 to preserve and develop the AlUla region, a 22,561-square-kilometer swath of northwest Saudi Arabia, as a global destination for natural and cultural heritage. Plans call for 80% of the AlUla project’s land to be converted into nature reserves.

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