Arabian Leopard trail run begins in Oman


To raise awareness about the critically endangered Arabian Leopard, the Ministry of Tourism (MoT), in collaboration with Husaak Adventures, is organising a 50 kilometre (km) nature walk/run/hiking challenge from September 28 to September 30. Around 120 participants from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are expected to take part in the 50km walk/trek, according to MoT. “This 50km journey will begin from the top of Jebel Samhan, a mountain that rises dramatically to more than a 1,000 metres above the sea level, to the Indian Ocean,” organisers said. Dhofar is looking to become an adventure tourism destination as this region is famed for its wildlife and the high mountains. “The first Arabian Leopard Challenge will be one-of-a-kind experience for all,” said Ali Husain, founder, Husaak Adventures. The trek will also provide an opportunity for participants to learn about unique ecosystems along the path, in addition to experiencing the unique Jebeli culture, and see one of the world’s largest sink holes. “Whether you are a competitive runner or ultra-marathon competitor looking for a unique challenge, or a beginner looking to experience the beauty of nature at your own pace, this will be a fun experience for all. This is a chance for people of all ages and fitness levels to run/walk down Jebal Samhan at their own speed with the presence of experienced Husaak guides and their medical support,” organisers said. “This event is open to everyone, regardless of their fitness level. You can be a super athlete aiming for the full 50 km run or a nature lover, who wants to walk and take photos. There are exit points every 5 km,” they said. The Jabal Samhan Nature Reserve is a nature reserve in Dhofar. It has an area of 4,500 square kilometres (1,700 sq. miles) and has no permanent population. It is one of the last places with wild Arabian leopards. “Experts will also teach the participants about the Arabian leopard,” Husain said. The most important prey species are the Arabian Gazelle, Nubian Ibex, Cape Hare, Rock Hyrax, Indian Crested Porcupine, Desert Hedgehog and several bird species. Occasionally, they might prey on domestic livestock. Other predators, which are found in the reserve, include the Caracal, Striped Hyena and the Arabian Wolf. Working with Oman’s Ministry of Tourism, Husain hopes to raise awareness about the plight of the Arabian Leopard, as well as promote Dhofar as an eco-tourism, adventure and wildlife destination.