Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 20 September 2019

Endangered Arabian leopard spotted in Oman

Nervous cat sets-off camera trap set by conservationists in the Dhofar mountains

A rare Arabian leopard has been spotted in Oman, fewer than 200 are thought to exist in the wild. Courtesy: Times of Oman 
A rare Arabian leopard has been spotted in Oman, fewer than 200 are thought to exist in the wild. Courtesy: Times of Oman 

A rare Arabian leopard was caught on camera in the Dhofar Mountains of Oman.

The sighting is a boon for conservationists, as the big cat is one of the scarcest feline breeds on the planet.

The cat set off infrared cameras in the mountainous region north of Salalah.

Fewer than 200 Arabian leopards are thought to exist in the wild. The breed is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list for animals at risk.

Oman’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs told local media that the pictures had been collected by camera traps set by wildlife protection units in Dhofar.

The south-eastern region of Oman is a known territorial area for Arabian leopards.

The big cats are also found in the Hawf area of north-eastern Yemen and a small, isolated population is known to roam in Saudi Arabia.

Leopards have protected status in Oman. The penalty for hunting or capturing the critically endangered animals is a prison term of between six months and five years and a fine of 5,000 Omani rials (Dh47,500).

In April, two cubs were born through a breeding programme at the Prince Saud Al-Faisal Wildlife Research Centre in Taif, Saudi Arabia.

The Royal Commission for Al Ula, Saudi Arabia's tourism project, has since committed to helping protect the species under a regional conservation programme.

A $20 million (Dh73.4m) initiative in partnership with the non-profit Panthera conservation group was signed to support new protection programmes.

Updated: September 9, 2019 04:43 PM

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