17 facts about the Arabian leopard
- It is believed that the Arabian leopard is a subspecies of the common leopard although the taxonomy (species classication) of this cat is vague;
- There are question marks over whether it is a distinct subspecies but this appears to have been tentatively affirmed according to genetic analysis of a single wild leopard from Saudi Arabia;
- The leopard looks a bit like a jaguar as both have relatively short legs and convey the same sense of stocky, robust power. The leopard is the largest spotted cat in Asia and in Africa. The markings of the leopard are similar to those of the jaguar and there is a variation between individuals. The rosettes vary in size shape and thickness. The jaguar’s coat is covered in rosettes like those of the leopard but they have a small black spot within each central area which is absent normally in the rosettes of leopards.
- The Arabian leopard is native to the Arabian Peninsula where it’s distribution has shrunk dramatically and is highly fragmented as you can see from the map above;
- The stronghold of the Arabian leopard is a continuous tract of the Dhofar and the Hawf are in northeastern Yemen;
- It is believed that the Arabian leopard is extinct in Hong Kong, Jordan, Korea, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Singapore, Syria, Togo, Tunisia, UAE and Uzbekistan. In 2006 there were an estimated eight cats in Israel’s Judaean desert and Negev Highlands;
- Since 1996 it has been considered to be critically endangered with fewer than 200 individuals in the wild as at 2006. Numbers are decreasing. There appears to be no recent count which means the latest count is 15 years old as at the date of this post. It is likely that the numbers are lower. Beyond a certain point it is game up for conservation as there is inbreeding and inbred cats can be sterile;
- The leopard is one of the big cats as it can roar;
- The leopard as a whole is highly adaptable and the most widespread of all the wild cats. They can live in forest, savanna, shrubland, rocky areas and the desert;
- The sharp decrease in distribution and population numbers is due to human intervention in one form or another. These are called anthropogenic threats such as habitat fragmentation, reduced prey base and conflict with livestock farmers and game farming. Leopards are also targets for trophy hunting;
- This subspecies of leopard is said to be the smallest;
- Arabian leopards are mainly nocturnal probably due to the need to avoid people;
- This subspecies will behave, in terms of hunting, as any other leopard except for the fact that they live in the desert and therefore prey animals are of a certain type but this cat is a generalist and therefore eats a wide range of prey animals. Food can be anything from beetles to ungulates. They are stalkers and pouncers as they are built for strength rather than fast sprinting;
- In desert conditions leopards have been known to drink only once in 10 days;
- It can live in areas receiving almost no rainfall and also in those areas where there is heavy rainfall; well over 2000 mm annually, or in sub-zero climates;
- It’s distribution is limited mainly by the presence of people and competitors;
- In light of the likelihood of extinction of the species in the wild, Princess Rima bint Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the US started a conservation foundation called Catmosphere. The current initiative is called Catwalk (see tweet below). It is a means to create awareness of the need for conservation of the Arabian leopard and wildlife in general. Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of foreign affairs were among participants in Catwalk 2021. Participants walked 7 km to raise awareness of the need to protect wild cats. The event was held in Riyadh’s Diplomatic Quarter (DQ) in Saudi Arabia.
— Saudi Embassy (@SaudiEmbassyUSA) November 6, 2021
Note: This is an embedded tweet. Sometimes they are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. If that has happened, I apologise but I have no control over it.