Four species that have vanished from Saudi Arabia

Asiatic lion, Arabian ostrich, cheetah and Saudi gazelle have disappeared from the kingdom, wildlife development centre confirms

A male Asiatic cheetah in an enclosure in Tehran. AFP
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Saudi Arabia is no longer a habitat for four species of lion, gazelle, ostrich and cheetah, the National Centre for Wildlife Development confirmed on Tuesday.

The Saudi gazelle has become extinct in the wild, the centre said on Twitter. The Arabian cheetah was declared extinct about 50 years ago and the Asiatic lion became extinct in the kingdom more than 100 years ago. The fourth animal is the Arabian ostrich.

In recent years, the Saudi government has shown an interest in resettling many endangered animals that form part of the kingdom's heritage. They include the Arabian leopard, oryx, houbara bustard and antelope.

The Royal Commission for AlUla, which has national responsibility for bringing back the Arabian leopard, has created a fund with a $25 million endowment to promote conservation efforts. It has signed a 10-year, $20 million agreement with a US organisation called Panthera, which is supporting its efforts.

Whether the Arabian leopard still exists at all in the wild in Saudi Arabia is uncertain. Previous estimates put the population in the country at about 50, but recent camera-trap surveys have failed to detect any.

The scientific name of the subspecies is Panthera pardus nimr.

Updated: December 07, 2022, 3:10 PM