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Arabian Leopard Fund Launches Conservation Scholarship Program

The Arabian Leopard Fund has unveiled a pioneering scholarship initiative aimed at cultivating a cohort of 50 students who will receive comprehensive education and practical training to become the next generation of conservationists dedicated to protecting the critically endangered Arabian leopard. This scholarship program, part of the larger AlUla scholarships initiative, is designed to select the most promising Saudi men and women from a pool of 300 applicants in AlUla to pursue bachelor's degrees in conservation-related fields from top global institutions.

This groundbreaking initiative builds upon the fund's ongoing commitment to fostering the development of future conservation leaders and experts across the region. One of the many training programs it offers is a five-year partnership with the UK's Durrell Conservation Academy and a specialized training program at the Arabian Leopard Conservation Breeding Center, conducted in collaboration with the Royal Commission for AlUla, to equip participants with the necessary skills for Arabian leopard care.

The announcement of this scholarship coincided with the inauguration of the Arabian Leopard Fund's new headquarters in Riyadh and follows the inaugural observance of the UN-recognized International Day of the Arabian Leopard on February 10th. The UN established this significant day in June of the preceding year to raise awareness about the conservation needs of the Arabian leopard.

Supporting the scholarship initiative is the launch of the Arabian Leopard endowment, which consists of micro-grants totaling SR1 million ($266,000). These grants are intended to support research and conservation efforts aimed at revitalizing Arabian leopard populations, providing crucial financial assistance to international conservationists, veterinarians, and scientists engaged in cutting-edge conservation work.

The Arabian Leopard Fund, established with an initial endowment of $25 million in 2020, addresses the pressing challenge posed by the alarming decline in Arabian leopard populations, currently classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 plan highlights the country's commitment to biodiversity and ecological protection, including the conservation of Arabian leopards.

The Arabian Leopard Fund's managing director, Waleed Aldayel, highlighted Saudi Arabia's environmental responsibility while underscoring the importance of the Arabian leopard grant in the context of wildlife conservation worldwide. He also expressed optimism about the impact of the scholarship program and the Arabian Leopard Grant in nurturing future conservationists and advancing efforts to safeguard the Arabian leopard's future.

Applications for the Arabian Leopard Fund grant program are currently being accepted, inviting conservationists, researchers, veterinarians, and other interested parties to get involved in this ground-breaking conservation project that will secure the long-term existence of the Arabian leopard.

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