Sir Peter Scott Fund project: Arabian Leopard, Republic of Yemen

‘Assessment of the situation of the Arabian Leopard (Panthera pardus nimr) and initiation of a capacity building programme’

Objectives

  • To assess the distribution of the species
  • To collect local information and signs of Leopard presence
  • To assess the extent of human-Leopard conflict in local populations
  • To train local scientists in Leopard conservation

Background

To conserve the Arabian Leopard (Panthera pardus nimr), the project set out to assess the status of the leopard population in Yemen and to initiate capacity building for future monitoring and conservation. 

Updates

(December 2007) A Rapid Assessment Survey of Wada’a and two other areas was carried out, during a field trip accompanied by representatives from the Amran governorate. Short visits were also made to assess the leopard status at Wadi Dhaloum and Bura’a Protected Area.

Interviews with local people revealed that sightings of leopards and attacks on livestock were now much rarer than in the past, in some parts none had been seen for 10 to 15 years. Their disappearance has coincided with the expansion of human settlement and agriculture into the ‘wadis’, dry riverbeds where flooding occurs at certain times of year.

The arrival of a team of International conservationists to the area had the affect of reinforcing the local community’s sense of pride and positive attitude towards the leopard. Trapping of the animal is said to have completely ceased in the region, creating a sound basis for the project’s goal of establishing a conservation programme in the area.

Training and capacity-building strategies were initiated during this period and have been developed further during discussions with government and other authorities.

Ta’iz Zoo in Yemen, which holds a large number of Arabian leopards all originating from Wada’a, was visited to assess the captive breeding programme. 

A large scale leopard conservation project has also recently begun in Yemen. This project plans to cooperate with the larger scheme to maximise the impact of its work to protect the future of the species. 
The arrival of a team of International conservationists to the area had the affect of reinforcing the local community’s sense of pride and positive attitude towards the leopard. Trapping of the animal is said to have completely ceased in the region, creating a sound basis for the project’s goal of establishing a conservation programme in the area.

 

(December 2008) Two Belgian tourists and their Yemeni guides were ambushed and killed in Hadhramaut (one of the project field areas), in the spring of 2008. A follow-up visit to Wada'a (where we visited in December 2007), by a local team, had their camera trap stolen and were turned back by armed men. The insurrection in North Yemen has become worse and the government has conscripted some local people from this area, leading to bad feeling. The project leader has been in regular contact throughout the year with the University, ministry and local NGO, including development of a national leopard survey strategy. Local colleagues advise that the situation has calmed down now and a visit is planned for 28th December – 7th January.

 

(April 2009) The project has now successfully been completed. A second and third field trip to Yemen were made possible by a relaxation in hostilities in the region. In January,  the second visit involved field trips to Jebel Bura'a, Jebel Raymah, Wadi Sharas and Bani Al'Awwam and the third trip in March visited the Al Mahwit governance. Interviews and public meetings were conducted to survey the local people's knowledge of leopard presence as well as their attitude to leopard conservation. This has helped build a picture of the status of leopards in the region and indicates areas where future conservation work could be fruitful. Immediate conservation measures for Wada'a have been agreed including a ban on leopard trapping, educational materials for local schools, and the appointment of paid Leopard Wardens. The findings of the project will also be fed into a new national initiative to raise awareness of Arabian Leopards in Yemen. Full report

 

Duration: 2007 - 2009
Project leader:
Dr. David Mallon
IUCN SSC Specialist Group:
Cats
Project donors:
IUCN & Fondation Ensemble