Prince Badr Bin Abdullah Bin Farhan, the Minister of Culture and Governor of the Royal Commission for Al-Ula (RCU), has signed an agreement with Dr. Thomas Kaplan, the chairman of Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization, to support important regional and international conservation initiatives.
The signing ceremony was held at Ashar in the heart of Al-Ula county and signifies RCU joining The Global Alliance for Wild Cats with a commitment to invest $20 million over the next 10 years to conservation measures, with a focus on the critically endangered Arabian leopard, which is indigenous to Al-Ula.
Both the RCU and Panthera share a deep-rooted passion for conservation and are committed to working together to champion the revitalization of the Arabian leopard.
This will be achieved through several initiatives including the establishment of a global fund focused on the protection and enhancement of remaining wild populations, captive breeding programs, international collaborations, community-based conservation projects and scientific research to support the future of this rare species.
The Arabian Leopard Initiatives (ALI) that will be at the heart of the agreement with Panthera are fully aligned with the objectives of the RCU Charter and its goals to deliver a sensitive and responsible transformation of the Al-Ula region and its unique constellation of heritage, nature and art.
Commenting on the importance of the new agreement, Prince Badr said: "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," Prince Badr added.
Panthera Chairman Dr. Thomas Kaplan commented: "The Arabian Leopard Initiatives ("ALI"), announced by The Royal Commission for AlUla ("RCU") under the leadership of its Governor, His Highness Prince Badr Bin Abdullah Bin Farhan, 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 the 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," Dr. Kaplan added.