Arabian Leopard Initiative

Side profile of leopard;
© Fred launay / Panthera

In 2019, Panthera and the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) entered into a historic partnership to recover the Critically Endangered Arabian leopard as well as leopard populations around the globe. The RCU has committed $20 million to leopard conservation in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and around the world over the next decade. Successful leopard conservation will be achieved through several initiatives, including:

  • Scientific research;
  • A state-of-the-art captive-breeding center;
  • International collaborations;
  • Community-based conservation projects; and
  • Restoring habitat and prey populations within nature reserves.

Read the press release in English or Arabic.

February 10 is Arabian Leopard Day, a time to celebrate the world’s smallest subspecies of leopards. Panthera and the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) work in Saudi Arabia to conserve this elusive cat. We spoke with Panthera’s Leopard Program Director, Dr. Gareth Mann, and Arabian Leopard Initiative Coordinator, David Mills, to discuss the threats this Critically Endangered cat faces and what we are doing to help save it.

The Arabian Leopard Initiatives (ALI) will be at the heart of the agreement aimed to deliver a sensitive and responsible transformation of the AlUla region and its unique constellation of heritage, nature and art, as well as other key leopard sites in Saudi Arabia.

Panthera team and RCU rangers pose in the Sharaan Nature Reserve
Dr. Guy Balme, Executive Director, Conservation Science, and the Panthera team trained RCU rangers in camera trapping techniques in the Sharaan Nature Reserve. © Jacques Tournel

“The signing of the agreement is a major milestone in our shared ambitions to reintroduce the Arabian leopard population in the region and join global partners to support the preservation of these wild cat populations worldwide. It is our duty to protect, conserve and build the population numbers to preserve the species from becoming a footnote of history.”

HH Prince Badr bin Abdullah Al-Saud

Minister of Culture and Governor of the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU)

Take a Deep Dive into Arabian Leopards

Catmosphere Partners, The Royal Commission for AlUla, Panthera, the Arabian Leopard Fund and Saudi’s National Center for Wildlife developed the Arabian Leopard Deep Dive series. In this first-ever educational, bilingual language (Arabic and English), film collection, viewers can learn about the Arabian leopard's history and the efforts to ensure the species’ future.

Watch the full Deep Dive video series on YouTube »

Reintroduction Efforts

In this webinar, Panthera scientists discuss the opportunities and challenges associated with reintroducing four wild cat species to their native habitats — Arabian leopards, jaguars, tigers and lions.

Birth of Rare Arabian Leopard Cubs Sparks Hope

Since the Arabian leopard captive-breeding center opened in 2019, the Royal Commission for AlUla has announced the birth of 18 Arabian leopard cubs, providing hope for the future of this big cat, whose numbers hover at an estimated 120 in the wild. Learn about our work with the Royal Commission for AlUla to conserve and eventually reintroduce the Critically Endangered species back into the wild.

The Global Alliance

This partnership signifies RCU’s entrance into the Global Alliance for Wild Cats, an international coalition of the world’s leading environmental philanthropists who wish to preserve large-scale wildlife habitats and biodiversity by protecting the world’s wild cats. Conceived by Dr. Thomas S. Kaplan, Panthera’s Founder and Chair of the Board, and his wife, Daphne Recanati Kaplan, the Alliance provides critical support to Panthera and the NGOs with which it partners to develop and implement science-based solutions that address the primary threats facing big cats. Learn more about the Alliance and other members of this leading group of conservationists.