Minister of Culture and Governor of the Royal Commission for Al-Ula (RCU) Prince Badr Bin Abdullah Bin Farhan signed an agreement on Friday, June 7th 2019 at Al-Ula, with the Chairman of Panthera Dr. Thomas Kaplan, a global wild cat conservation organization, to support both regional and international conservation initiatives, with a focus on the critically endangered Arabian leopard, which is indigenous to Al-Ula.
RCU joins The Global Alliance for Wild Cats with a commitment to invest $20 million over the next 10 years for conservation measures. This will be achieved through several initiatives, including the establishment of a global fund focused on the protection of remaining wild populations, captive breeding programs, international collaborations, community-based conservation projects, and scientific research to support the future of the Arabian leopard.
Prince Badr stated that, "the signing of the agreement is a major milestone in our shared ambitions to reintroduce the Arabian leopard population in the region, and join global partners to support the preservation of these wild cat populations worldwide. It is our duty to protect, conserve, and build the population numbers to preserve the species from becoming a footnote of history... Our partnership with Panthera will help ensure that populations in other countries around the world are preserved before they reach the levels of endangerment faced today by our precious native big cats.
Panthera Chairman Dr. Thomas Kaplan commented that "the Arabian Leopard Initiatives ("ALI"), announced by The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) under the leadership of its Governor, His Highness Prince Badr, are a testament to the power of individuals to alter the trajectory of a species — away from extinction and towards rebirth... I am particularly grateful that RCU has not only chosen to invest in bringing back the Kingdom's own leopards, but has also joined — together with Indian, Chinese, Emirati, and American partners — in Panthera's Global Alliance for Wild Cats. This constitutes a truly exceptional act of environmental statesmanship in this day and age. I applaud such visionary leadership and urge more governments to follow in their inspired path".