Panthera Middle East

Wild Cat Species

— Arabian Leopard
— Caracal
— Sand cat
— Wildcat 

Priority Landscapes

— Sarawat Mountains, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
— AlUla, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Panthera supports The Royal Commission of AlUla (RCU) focus on leopards, specifically restoring and conserving leopards in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). The Arabian leopard is a Critically Endangered subspecies of leopard, characterized by its small size and relatively pale coat. There are thought to be less than 200 Arabian leopards left in the wild. The only other cat species on the Arabian Peninsula are sand cat, caracal and wild cat. Caracal and wild cats likely occur sympatrically with leopards; we collect data on these species wherever possible. They may also benefit from interventions that protect and rehabilitate core leopard sites. 

Leopards and sand cats exhibit very different habitat preferences and are unlikely to co-occur, and hence, dedicated research on sand cats in this region is required in the future.  

There is little reliable data on the distribution and abundance of Arabian leopards, particularly within the KSA, and our initial priority was to address this knowledge gap. Panthera undertook camera-trap and questionnaire surveys across all probable and possible leopard ranges in the KSA, supporting RCU, to 1) establish the status of the species, 2) identify critical threats facing the species, and 3) determine suitable sites where captive-bred leopards could potentially be reintroduced. The project's focus is now to identify and prepare sites for potential leopard reintroductions in the future.

Panthera will partner with local communities to conserve leopards and other wildlife around protected areas and work towards restoring habitat and prey populations. Good practices for Arabian leopard conservation in the KSA will be shared with other range states in the region (e.g., in Oman, Yemen and possibly the United Arab Emirates) to ensure that comparable and consistent information is collected across the Arabian leopard range. 

An Arabian Caracal (Caracal caracal schmitzi) in cloud forest, Hawf Protected Area, Yemen
© Sebastian Kennerknecht


Gareth Mann

Maya Bankova

Panthera Middle East Blogs

Arabian Leopard
Saudi Arabia Wilderness: Brining Nature Back into Balance
Empowering Conservationists for the Future
Arabian leopard 2
Q&A: Arabian Leopards


Guy Balme, Ph.D.

Executive Director, Conservation Science

Gareth Mann, Ph.D.

Director, Leopard Program
Project coordinator, Arabian Leopard Initiative

Philip Faure

Senior Field Team Leader, Arabian Leopard Initiative

Maya Bankova

Program Manager, Arabian Leopard Initiative