Muscat – Camera traps of Environment Authority (EA) have captured an image of an Arabian leopard with her cub in Jabal Samhan Nature Reserve in Dhofar.
Field studies carried out by the Office for Conservation of Environment (OCE) in the last 23 years have confirmed the presence of the Arabian leopard in the mountains of Dhofar, ranging from Hasik in the east to the wilayat of Dhalkut in the west, in addition to sightings in Najd, north of the Dhofar mountains.
In a statement, EA said, ‘Preliminary results of environmental surveys of large mammals, carried out by OCE in Jabal Samhan Reserve in Dhofar, showed rare images of an Arabian leopard and her cub, not older than a few weeks.’
Specialists of OCE also monitored other species of wild animals such as the Nubian ibex and the Arabian wolf in the reserve. ‘This is a positive indicator for the survival and reproduction of these species in their natural environment. The camera traps project aims to provide data on the type and number of predators living in the area,’ it stated.
Ministerial Decree 101/02 and Royal Decrees 111/96, 75/98, 114/2001 and 6/2003 protect the Arabian leopard with a ban on hunting or capturing these animals.
Under Royal Decree 6/2003, the penalty for hunting or capturing Arabian leopards is imprisonment for no less than six months and no more than five years, and a fine of no less than RO1,000 and no more than RO5,000.
In November 2020, OCE detected the first scientific evidence of the presence of the Arabian leopard in two different locations west of Dhalkut.
The OCE confirmed the breakthrough study – conducted by its specialists using several modern techniques, including camera traps – indicates the rich biological diversity of the area.
There are less than 200 Arabian leopards in the wild, and according to studies conducted in Oman, 44 to 58 of these are in the sultanate. The Arabian leopard has been classified by IUCN as critically endangered.