unnamed;Conserving the endangered species of Arabian leopard is a daunting task. A large number of them were living undisturbed in forests and were roaming freely on Dhofar mountains. But not anymore. With the development of roads and large-scale development on the mountains, these leopards are moving to safer areas. They are also losing their prey. The wildlife specialists are working with the Office for Conservation of Environment at the Diwan of Royal Court to study their behaviour and habitat.

New initiative to protect endangered animals

About 41 kinds of large cats are found in the world. Although they are large enough, they still face many threats especially those related to human activities like poaching, illegal trade and wars which have led to the fall in their numbers and some are now critically endangered or on the brink of extinction.

1,425 leopards were killed by poachers between 2000-2012 and 3,200 wild leopards were left in the world. The number has dramatically decreased and the Arabian leopard is now one of the critically endangered animals as fewer than 100 wild productive individuals are estimated to be alive in the wild. The leopards are found in Najaf desert in Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman. The Dhofar mountains (Jabal Samhan Reserve) is now considered to be their last stronghold in the world.

The number of lions has decreased by 80%. They settle at 27 African countries and one Asian country but only seven countries of them are known for having more than 1000 lions.

Illegal trade is considered as the fourth biggest crime globally which causes huge economical losses to countries. The illegal trade in the wildlife is estimated by $30 billion annually.

This was revealed during the launch of the Omani-American Environment Forum which was inaugurated under the patronage of Najeeb al Rawas, undersecretary of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs.

The forum is held in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the US Embassy in Muscat, which was attended by a number of specialists from the relevant authorities from the Sultanate and the United States. The areas of collaboration between the two countries were highlighted within the framework of the memorandum of understanding signed between the two governments in 2014-2017 in the field of environment and conservation of wildlife.

The new agenda of cooperation for the second stage 2018-2021 was also addressed. The specialists in the Ministry highlighted a number of programs that were executed in the areas of nature conservation and environmental affairs, including the national capacity-building programs, the enhancement of the nature reserves and the he Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs seeks to rehabilitate cadres and gain international expertise in the various environmental fields in order to promote the environmental situation for a better future.