The United Nations General Assembly has unanimously adopted a resolution to design February 10 as the International Day of the Arabian Leopard, a critically endangered subspecies of the big cat that is native to the Arabian Peninsula.
The resolution, which was sponsored by Saudi Arabia and co-sponsored by 28 other countries, aims to raise awareness about the importance of conserving the Arabian Leopard and its habitat for biodiversity and sustainability.
The Arabian Leopard is the smallest and rarest of the nine leopard subspecies, with fewer than 200 individuals surviving in the wild. It faces multiple threats, such as habitat loss and fragmentation, prey depletion, poaching, and illegal trade.
The resolution recognizes that the global leopard population was classified as "vulnerable" in 2016, while the Arabian Leopard subspecies are considered "critically endangered". It also notes that the animal's rapid disappearance from its former range on the Arabian Peninsula represents "a major setback for conservation of biodiversity and sustainability in the region".
The resolution emphasizes the significance of the Arabian Leopard and other endangered species in maintaining an ecological balance throughout their habits. It recognizes "the significant efforts towards restoring the Arabian Leopard as a flagship species for nature conservation and sustainability on the Arabian Peninsula". And underscores that such efforts - including breeding programs and the development of regional and national strategies for its conservation - "will profoundly benefit the nature of the ecosystem".
'The Arabian Leopard has held a special place in the region for thousands of years and is present in ancient petroglyphs, stories, and even everyday expressions", he said.
He adds that Saudi Arabia "has paid great attention to preserving biodiversity, protecting, preserving and multiplying the numbers of Arabian Leopard, saving them from the threat of extinction, securing their place in the wild with the aim of returning to their natural habitats, and ensuring a safe future for the Arabian Leopard against the dangers it faces".
In 2022, Saudi Arabia declared February 10 as "Arabian Leopard Day" in a bid to raise awareness of the endangered big cat. The Kingdom has also launched several initiatives to conserve and reintroduces the Arabian Leopard in its Natural Habitat, such as the Sharann Nature Reserve in AlUla and the Prince Saudi Al-Fisal Wildlife Research Center in Taif.
The resolution also encourages all members states, UN organizations, civil society, and other stakeholders to observe and support the International Day of the Arabian Leopard through various activities and events that promote public awareness and education about the conservation of this unique animal and ecosystem.