I have just discovered the abstract of a scientific publication detailing the confirmed presence of a leopard (Panthera pardus) in south-east Egypt. This is the first time a leopard has been recorded in that country in 65 years.
But it might be too early to celebrate. The leopard was killed in Elba Protected Area, most likely during 2015. The authors of the aforementioned study do not mention any signs of additional leopards in their abstract.
Unfortunately I do not have any additional information on this incident, as this paper is beyond my price range. But if I learn anything else about the possibility of leopards returning to Egypt I will be sure to share it.
I have recently received the full paper on this incident from my good friend Muhammad Awais. It turns out that this leopard was killed on December 16, 2014 after it attacked a camel that belonged to a group of shepherds. In addition, it was most likely not the only leopard in Egpyt (Soultan et al., 2016).
Upon hearing about this incident, Soultan et al. (2016) visited the area where the leopard was killed. After conducting a thorough investigation they concluded that leopards still inhabit the southern portions of Egypt. Local people stated that Panthera pardus occasionally enters the country from Sudan, and that there may be a small resident population in Elba Protected Area (Soultan et al., 2016).
These are significant findings, because it was previously believed that leopards were extinct in Egypt. While the cats are still threatened, Soultan et al.’s (2016) findings provide hope that effective conservation might see their numbers rise.
I cannot help but notice similarities between this case and the rediscovery of jaguars in the United States in the 1990s.
I would like to publicly thank Muhammad Awais for obtaining this paper for me. Please read the short bio about him that is posted on this blog, as well as his guest post about human-leopard conflict in Pakistan.