The Royal Geographical Society held a couple of events mid-week; the Shackleton photography exhibition and talks about Leopards in Oman and the Sultanate’s Aflaj (the plural of Falaj) organised by Nigel Winser.
with less than 60 in Oman and 200 worldwide, the animal needs all the support it can get.
The Arabian leopard was once found throughout Arabia’s mountains, from Oman in the east through to Jordan in the north west. However rapid human population growth with its associated infrastructure and increase in livestock numbers have fragmented the Leopards habitat and caused their numbers to plunge.
Grabbing a couple of bottles of water, we set off at a good walking pace under the cloud cover of the early Khareef (Monsoon) season in Salalah Oman .
I enjoy trekking in Oman with Hadi al Hikmani, enthusiasm is always a good companion and Hadi packages his in friendliness and knowledge. On this walk, his knowledge identified fresh ‘scat’ (excrement) on our pathway – in fact Leopard scat . Fresh, in fact, very fresh – probably less than half an hour old. In the day that followed, we walked along Leopard tracks and with all our stops and starts, examining the tracks and collecting scat we didn’t catch up with our invisible walking companion.
We returned along the same path and astoundingly found more scat; the Leopard had returned to the path after we passed .
Over a year before, on another walk with Hadi, I said to him that I would write about Oman’s Leopards; as he believes that awareness is a key to its survival. So, shamed that no article had been produced in over a year, I returned to Muscat and somehow produced a piece. Wonderfully ‘ Oman Today ’ has used it in their August edition – I’m delighted of course.
Oman is a key territory of Panthera pardus nimr, the Arabian Leopard, and, with possibly less than 200 individuals in the world, awareness may well help its survival.
The advancing monsoon was descending on Salalah as I spent time there with Hadi Al Hikmani whose passion and work is researching Arabian Leopard in Dhofar. His family keep an extraordinary number of goats below the mountains and they are a potential prey of the Leopard.