Saudi Arabia’s Royal Commission for Al Ula (RCU) has revealed the first images and videos of two Arabian leopard cubs thanks to their breeding programme, which aims to help preserve the critically endangered species.
The two cubs, one male and one female, were born on April 26 at the Prince Saud Al-Faisal Wildlife Research Centre in Taif in the North West of Saudi Arabia. The pair are now 12 weeks old and have received their first examinations and vaccinations.
The initial three-month period was the most crucial for the newly born leopards as it is during this period they successfully bonded with their 10-year-old mother, Hamms, and learnt important behaviours through her. They will remain together for the next 18 months to two years in line with the global best practice for captive breeding programmes.
The successful conception and birth of the cubs marks a significant breakthrough as the RCU launches its Arabian Leopard Initiatives (ALI), in alignment with the goals and objectives of the RCU Charter to protect the nature and wildlife of the Al Ula region.
Back in June, it was announced that the Saudi Arabian tourism project has signed a deal for at least $20 million (Dh73.4m) with the conservation organisation Panthera, with the aim of helping protect the under-threat species.
The leopard is indigenous to the region, with a population that once flourished on mountains across the Arabian Peninsula. Since 1996, however, the creature has been placed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List as a critically endangered species.