KSA, AlUla, June 7, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- His Highness Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammad bin Farhan Al Saud, the Minister of Culture and Governor of the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU), has signed an agreement with Dr. Thomas Kaplan, the Chairman of Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organisation, to support important regional and international conservation initiatives.
The signing ceremony was held at Ashar in the heart of AlUla county and signifies RCU joining The Global Alliance for Wild Cats with a commitment to invest $US 20 million over the next 10 years to conservation measures, with a focus on the critically endangered Arabian leopard, which is indigenous to AlUla.
Both the RCU and Panthera share a deep-rooted passion for conservation and are committed to working together to champion the revitalisation 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 programmes, 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 AlUla region and its unique constellation of heritage, nature and art.
Commenting on the importance of the new agreement, His Highness Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammad bin Farhan Al Saud 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."
His Highness continued, "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: "The Arabian Leopard Initiatives ("ALI"), announced by The Royal Commission for AlUla ("RCU") under the leadership of its Governor, His Highness Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammad bin Farhan Al Saud, are a testament to the power of individuals to alter the trajectory of a species – away from extinction and towards rebirth."
Dr. Kaplan continued, "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."
About The Royal Commission for AlUla
The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) was established by royal decree in July 2017 to protect and safeguard AlUla, a region of outstanding natural and cultural significance in North-West Saudi Arabia. RCU is embarking on a long-term plan to develop and deliver a sensitive, sustainable transformation of the region, reaffirming it as one of the country's most important archaeological and cultural destinations and preparing it to welcome visitors from around the world. RCU's development work in AlUla encompasses a broad range of initiatives across archaeology, tourism, culture, education and the arts, reflecting the ambitious commitment to cultivate tourism and leisure in Saudi Arabia, outlined in Vision 2030.
Panthera, founded in 2006, is devoted exclusively to preserving wild cats and their critical role in the world's ecosystems. Panthera's team of leading biologists, law enforcement experts and wild cat advocates develop innovative strategies based on the best available science to protect cheetahs, jaguars, leopards, lions, pumas, snow leopards and tigers and their vast landscapes. In 36 countries around the world, Panthera works with a wide variety of stakeholders to reduce or eliminate the most pressing threats to wild cats – securing their future, and ours. Visit panthera.org.