Yemeni Tribesmen Are Capturing This Endangered Leopard for Money

Conservationists are trying to preserve a rare cat that is in danger of dying out, but Yemen’s combination of lawlessness and red tape makes it tough.

By Gaar Adams | September 6, 2013 

Murad Mohamed, a scrawny 27 year-old biology graduate, peers through a pair of dusty binoculars, searching for something few even know exists in Yemen: the Arabian leopard, one of the Middle East’s most iconic species—and one of the world’s most endangered animals.

A field researcher for the Foundation for the Protection of the Arabian Leopard in Yemen (FPALY), Mohamed is leading the first leopard survey of its kind in Raymah, a fertile region in the craggy Haraz Mountains located about 60 miles southwest of Yemen’s capital, Sana’a. FPALY’s Raymah survey — one of only a handful of concerted efforts in history to locate the Arabian leopard in Yemen — is just one of the half-dozen the foundation has already undertaken during its four years as an organization. With their research, they aim to reverse the animal’s rapidly declining presence—not just in Yemen but in its entire, decimated former habitat.

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