Successful birth of Arabian leopard cubs ‘new beacon of hope’ in Saudi bid to save species from extinction: Culture minister

1 / 2
The birth of two Arabian leopard cubs has been hailed as a “new beacon of hope” in Saudia Arabia’s bid to reintroduce the critically endangered big cat back into the wild. (SPA)
2 / 2
The birth of two Arabian leopard cubs has been hailed as a “new beacon of hope” in Saudia Arabia’s bid to reintroduce the critically endangered big cat back into the wild. (SPA)
Updated 01 August 2019

Successful birth of Arabian leopard cubs ‘new beacon of hope’ in Saudi bid to save species from extinction: Culture minister

  • The news marks a significant step in the RCU’s breeding program
  • During the initial 12-week period of the newborn leopards’ lives, they successfully bonded with their 10-year-old mother Hamms

ALULA: The birth of two Arabian leopard cubs has been hailed as a “new beacon of hope” in Saudia Arabia’s bid to reintroduce the critically endangered big cat back into the wild.
The Saudi Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) revealed that the male and female cubs, born on April 26 at the Prince Saud Al-Faisal Wildlife Research Center in Taif, had now been vaccinated after passing a crucial 12-week developmental milestone.
The news marks a significant step in the RCU’s breeding program to help preserve and eventually reintroduce the subspecies into the north-west of the Kingdom as part of its portfolio of Arabian Leopard Initiatives (ALI).
The commission’s charter aims to deliver a sensitive and responsible transformation of the AlUla region and protect its nature and wildlife.
During the initial 12-week period of the newborn leopards’ lives, they successfully bonded with their 10-year-old mother Hamms (which means “whisper” in Arabic), learned important behaviors and grew stronger in the seclusion of their den. The cubs will remain with their mother for the next 18 months to two years in line with global best practice for captive breeding programs.
Saudi Minister of Culture and RCU Gov. Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud, said: “This is a historic moment in our efforts to reintroduce the Arabian leopard to the AlUla region.
“With fewer than an estimated 200 Arabian leopards remaining in the wild globally, this is one of the most critically endangered animals in the world, and these cubs represent a new beacon of hope for the renewal of a subspecies on the brink of extinction. It is our duty to protect, conserve and build population numbers to preserve the species from becoming a footnote of history.
“That is why the RCU is actively championing the revitalization of the Arabian leopard to support the future of this rare and majestic big cat that is native to AlUla,” the prince added.
“The birth of these two cubs will be the first of many as our specialized captive breeding program grows and develops – boosted by the support of local experts, as well as global partners like Panthera.”
The commission’s ALI combines several projects working toward the preservation of the subspecies including an extensive captive breeding and reintroduction program, and the establishment of the Global Fund for the Arabian Leopard. 
As a center of excellence, the RCU is establishing a steering committee with leading experts from around the world to enhance and inform ALI’s captive breeding, husbandry, veterinary and reintroduction practices in the existing breeding facility located in Taif.
The committee will also help guide the design of a state-of-the-art breeding center to be constructed in AlUla county and consult on habitat revitalization projects in the Sharaan Nature Reserve.
It was announced in February that the newly created Global Fund for the Arabian Leopard will have an initial endowment of $25 million (SR94 million), making it the largest fund in the world wholly dedicated to safeguarding the Arabian leopard. Currently in the strategic planning and operational set-up phase, the fund will be fully mobilized by the end of this year.
The news of the leopard cubs’ birth follows the signing in June of a partnership agreement between the RCU governor and Dr. Thomas Kaplan, chairman of the global wild cat conservation organization Panthera.
Saudi Arabia, through this partnership, has in turn joined the Global Alliance for Wild Cats, making a commitment to invest $20 million over the next 10 years.


350,000 books to feature at Jeddah fair

Updated 54 min 28 sec ago

350,000 books to feature at Jeddah fair

JEDDAH: Hundreds of authors from around the world are preparing to take part in a prestigious Saudi book festival.

The Jeddah International Book Fair, to be staged in South Obhur from Dec. 11 to 21, will feature more than 350,000 volumes to cater to all reading tastes.

Now in its fifth edition, the cultural event, run under the patronage of Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, will see the participation of 400 Saudi, Arab and international publishing houses from 40 different countries.

Jeddah Gov. Prince Mishaal bin Majed, who is head of the fair’s supreme committee, has been coordinating the organization of the event which will include book-signing sessions by 200 authors.

The exhibition, occupying 30,000 square meters, is one of the biggest specialized expos in the Kingdom, and aims to promote reading and the cultural environment.

The fair will also include a program of seminars, lectures and indoor and outdoor theater productions, along with documentary films for families and children, and workshops in visual arts, photography and Arabic calligraphy.

The Jeddah fair is supported by Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud, who believes it reflects the city’s culture and traditions, along with backing from Minister of Media Turki Al-Shabanah. SPA Jeddah