Arabian leopard spotted in Dhofar

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The critically endangered Arabian leopard has made a rare appearance in the Governorate of Dhofar, according to the Office for Conservation of Environment (OCE) in the Diwan of Royal Court.

The last of the leopards, whose total number in the wild is expected to be less than 200, survive in the mountains of Dhofar and the adjoining areas in Yemen.

OCE has released photos of an Arabian leopard and stated that the animal came out to enjoy the magic of nature and the atmosphere of khareef in Dhofar. ‘This was because of the extensive protection and conservation efforts of the authorities in Oman,’ it said.

Leopards are active mostly at night and the pattern of rosettes on the body is unique in each individual.

Called ‘qadhr’ locally in the Dhofar Mountains, camera-trap studies continue to confirm the presence of leopards in Jebel Samhan in Dhofar. Between 1997 and 2000, over 200 photographs of 17 leopards were obtained by Andrew Spalton, an adviser for environmental affairs working in Oman.

Another set of camera-trappings confirmed the presence of nine to 11 leopards in Jebel Qara and Qamar that run west from Samhan to the Oman-Yemen border.

A number of these leopards were fitted with GPS collars and tracked over the years. According to studies conducted in Oman, an estimated 44 to 58 Arabian leopards are left in the country.

This is the world’s biggest population of these elusive cats. Only 200 of these animals are thought to be left in the wild in the Arabian Peninsula.

Meanwhile, OCE added that it recently celebrated World Photography Day.

‘With the cooperation of a group of wildlife photographers, we set up a photography workshop for wildlife observers in the Ras al Shajar and Wadi Sareen nature reserves. The workshop aimed at monitoring, documenting and preserving wildlife.’

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