Numbers of the Arabian leopard, found only on the Arabian peninsula, are declining. The leopard is classed as Critically Endangered on IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species™ and is listed on Appendix I of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), which means that no commercial trade in the animal is allowed. It's thought to be extinct in Jordan, Egypt’s Sinai peninsula and the United Arab Emirates. Conservation efforts have been hampered by a lack of information on how many Arabian leopards are still in the wild.
But a group of conservationists in Yemen, with support from the IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group, is trying to keep track of numbers and introduce measures to ensure the survival of the species.
The Foundation of the Protection of the Arabian Leopard in Yemen estimates that there are just 70 Arabian leopards living in the wild in the country. The Taiz Zoo has set up a successful breeding programme from five animals caught in the wild. There are now 24 leopards at the zoo and more cubs are being born. The hope is that some of the animals will be reintroduced into the wild.
Dr. Abdul Karim Nasher, who’s Professor of Zoology at Sana’a University, is one of the founding members of the Foundation. He’s also a delegate for Yemen at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
Here he talks about the work of the Foundation and the plight of the Arabian leopard:
IUCN media team: