LONDON: It is not each and every working day that 1 federal government can take the trouble to congratulate a further on the beginning of a pair of cats.
But a quite distinctive concept very last month from the US embassy in Riyadh celebrated the arrival, not of two common felines, but a pair of feminine leopard cubs, symbols of a single of the most ambitious captive breeding programs in the globe.
“Congratulations Saudi Arabia on your latest and most lovely people,” said an embassy tweet on Aug. 18. The Royal Commission for AlUla, it included, “is doing an outstanding job performing to help save the critically endangered Arabian leopard.”
It undoubtedly is.
The RCU was founded in 2017 to protect and establish AlUla, a region of exceptional pure, historic, and cultural importance in northwest Saudi Arabia, as a world location that people will occur to dwell, operate and take a look at.
Due to the fact then, it has introduced a range of initiatives in fields which includes archaeology, tourism, culture, training, and the arts “reflecting a determination to conference the economic diversification, regional neighborhood empowerment, and heritage preservation priorities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Eyesight 2030 system.”
Section of the heritage of AlUla, and Saudi Arabia in standard, is the Arabian leopard, which graced the wild landscapes of Saudi Arabia for millennia.
Visuals of the animal, dating again to in between 6,000 and 11,000 several years ago, can be observed among the the 1000’s of petroglyphs hand carved into the rocks in Saudi Arabia’s Hail area, adopted by UNESCO in 2015 as a World Heritage Internet site of “outstanding common worth.”
Today, immediately after centuries of persecution at the fingers of farmers and hunters, and the constant reduction of habitat to contemporary development, the Arabian leopard is labeled by the Global Union for Conservation of Character as “critically endangered” — just one small stage away from extinction in the wild.
Sightings of this outstanding animal are exceptionally rare. There could be much less than 100 in the overall Arabian Peninsula, the place they are observed mostly in the Dhofar mountains of Oman, and in Saudi Arabia, the leopard is feared to be all but extinct.
The RCU options to alter that by breeding ample numbers of the animal in captivity for release into the mountains of AlUla, a organic habitat in which they the moment roamed for countless numbers of several years.
The two cubs whose births were being celebrated previous thirty day period have been the most recent of 18 born so much at the RCU’s Arabian Leopard Breeding Centre in Taif.
AlUla is dwelling to 5 nature reserves, covering an place of 12,500 square kilometers, all regarded as doable potential habitats for Arabian leopards. Anticipating the release of the initial leopards into the wild in 2030, the RCU is fast paced reintroducing native crops to the location to give meals for herbivores, the leopard’s primary prey.
Hundreds of animals, which includes the Arabian oryx, sand gazelles, and Nubian ibex, have presently been introduced into the reserves, in which they are setting up sustainable colonies.
The Arabian leopard may well be the spectacular facial area of the Kingdom’s motivation to the conservation and regeneration of its landscapes and wildlife, but it is just one particular of the lots of beneficiaries of the country’s rewilding initiatives.
There are at the moment 14 shielded landscapes in Saudi Arabia, covering an place of more than 82,000 sq. kilometers — pretty much the dimension of its neighbor the UAE. Less than the recently released Saudi Inexperienced Initiative, ideas are underway to designate up to 30 p.c of the Kingdom’s territory – additional than 640,000 sq. kilometers – as safeguarded locations.
The current protected regions are by now dwelling to a bewildering array of wildlife, which includes the Arabian wolf, striped hyena, crimson-necked ostrich, Arabian oryx, reem, Idmi gazelle, baboon, caracal, and many forms of birds, this kind of as osprey, houbara bustard, and pink-backed pelican, and three distinct species of fox — pink, sand, and Ruppell’s.
In Saudi Arabia, enhancement is likely hand in hand with conservation. For example, a determination to environmental sustainability is woven into the DNA of the Red Sea Advancement Company, which was set up in 2018 to acquire a flagship global tourism location above an location of 28,000 square kilometers, which include 90-as well as islands, on Saudi Arabia’s west coastline.
The location is household to unusual species, together with dugongs, wildcats, and environmentally friendly and hawksbill turtles. A lagoon at the heart of the project contains 175 various species of coral and 195 species of fish. It is a important habitat for endangered seabirds, this kind of as the sooty falcon and crab plover.
“Preservation of these habitats and species is central to the project’s growth as 75 % of the islands will be left untouched with 9 specified as special conservation zones,” suggests the RSDC.
Character is also an overriding worry at NEOM, a further of Saudi Arabia’s giga-jobs on the Crimson Sea. Right here, even as the desire of generating a entirely sustainable destination for the globe will take shape, the top determination is preserving 95 p.c of the stunning setting in which it will be set, from the crystal-distinct seas and pristine beaches to the awe-inspiring deserts and mountains.
The waters off most of Saudi Arabia teem with cherished wildlife, including five turtle species. 3 of them — Olive Ridley, loggerhead, and the leatherback — are selected as susceptible. Two — the green and hawksbill — are regarded as endangered.
Off the country’s Arabian Gulf coast, the islands of Karan and Jurayad are most important and shielded nesting sites for the hawksbill and environmentally friendly turtles, which also thrive on the Purple Sea at Ras Baridi, Farasan Island, Shakir Islands, Ras Al-Shaaban, Jabal Hassan, and Sanafir Island.
By location ecological criteria for progress, and by a series of rehabilitation plans and exploration experiments, the Saudi National Heart for Wildlife is preserving these habitats as element of the Kingdom’s broader dedication to preserving and restoring its marine biodiversity.