The Arabian leopard (Panthera pardus nimr), the second most highly endangered large cat on Earth, is up to 30 times rarer than the Bengal tiger. There are probably fewer than 100 wild Arabian leopards left in widely scattered populations in Oman and Yemen and, 'Unless drastic action is taken across their range, I'm afraid that the Arabian leopard is not going to make it.'* These beautiful cats are also the smallest and most genetically distinct of all leopard subspecies. Adult females can weigh less than 20 kg and even a "big" male is smaller than the average German shepherd.
Until January 11, 2011 when we proved the existence of a leopard population in eastern Yemen with our trail cameras, skeptics doubted that the leopard persisted in this country. So scarce and secretive are these creatures that so far we have only captured four photographs of two individuals.** Following our success in eastern Yemen we plan on using camera traps to establish the existence of leopard populations in other parts of Yemen. This project will focus on Wada'a, Amran, a tribal area to the north of Yemen's capital Sana'a where we have good reason to believe that the Arabian leopard still roams. We have trained Ibrahim Al Wada'i, a former leopard trapper from Wada'a, in the use of trail cameras. Now all we have to do is provide Ibrahim and an assistant with equipment, salaries, and logistical support.
$15,000 will enable us to purchase 10 high output trail cameras with security cases, batteries and charger, a GPS, netbook, external backup drive, and solar charging panels and provide Ibrahim and his assistant with all the support that they will need to keep this project going for a full year. In addition to Arabian leopards, we expect Ibrahim's team to capture candid photographs of the rare Arabian Wolf, Arabian Caracal, Striped Hyena, Honey Badger and other endangered Arabian wildlife. All of these images and associated data will be used to lobby the Yemen Government to establish the Wada'a Wildlife Sanctuary as a haven for imperiled wildlife.
Wada'a is not the only area in Yemen where we have good reason to believe that small populations of Arabian leopards hang on. As funding allows, we will equip and hire additional teams to document leopards and other wildlife at Wadi Sharis, Hajjah...Jebel Bura', Hodeidah...Wadi Bana, Lahej and Abyan...Jebel Kharaz, Taiz...Wadi Hajr, Shabwa...Wadi Masilah, Hadhramawt..., etc. In the absence of this and similar projects and the resulting conservation action that they will inspire, Dr. Breitenmoser's sad prediction is likely to come true. With your help we can ensure that it doesn't.
*Dr. Urs Breitenmoser, Co-chair of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group, Sharjah, UAE - Feb. 9, 2011
**Most of the leopard images in our video are of captive Arabian Leopards at the Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife in Sharjah, UAE.
Please Watch the Think Tank/Al Jazeera Film "Saving the Leopard' about our work at the following link:
Also, don't forget to log onto the Foundation Website at: www.yemenileopard.org
Virtually all of the threats to Arabian leopards result directly from human activities. Habitat destruction and fragmentation caused by rapidly growing human populations squeeze leopards into patches that are too small to ensure survival of the species. Leopards, like other predators, are persecuted because some men think it macho to kill them. Unregulated hunting depletes prey which forces leopards to turn to livestock for survival. This inevitably leads to retaliatory killing. Perhaps the greatest threat to Arabian leopards is now posed by the illicit wildlife trade, a criminal industry that is hastening the extinction of many wild species.
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