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RIYADH: Catmosphere’s second annual parade to raise awareness of endangered wildlife and collective welfare drew thousands of participants across the Kingdom and around the world on Saturday.
“We were delighted that the inaugural parade in 2021 received such overwhelming support, showing a huge appetite for our message and support for action to conserve iconic big cats across the world,” Princess Reema Bandar said. , founder of Catmosphere.
This year’s parade is expected to be much larger than last year’s, which had 27,000 participants in 102 countries.
More than 50 organized marches have taken place in the Kingdom alone, with the participation of many cities, including Asir, Riyadh, Alkhobar, Dharan, Al-Qassim, Makkah, Jeddah and Jazan.
The official number of participants has yet to be announced, but this year’s attendance already appears to be higher than the first Catwalk last year.
Catwalk is an annual global event that invites people to take part in a 7km walk to promote the interconnected well-being and preservation of wildlife, including the seven big cats – tigers, lions, leopards, jaguars, pumas, cheetahs and snow leopards, with a focus on the endangered Arabian leopard.
This year, several sites in Riyadh hosted the parade, including Diriyah, the Diplomatic Quarter, Riyadh Front and King Abdulaziz City of Science and Technology.
One of the participants, Amirulhusni Sahar marched in Diriyah. He said part of his family participated in the first parade, but this is his first time.
“I am here with my family and we also represent Malaysia,” said Sahar, the first secretary at the Malaysian embassy.
Sian Tichar, Catwalk campaign manager in Riyadh, explained Catmosphere’s mission in promoting collective well-being.
“The concept of collective well-being means that to have a healthy planet, we must have healthy people. What the Catwalk does is invite people to walk outside. If you take a walk outside, you’ll probably feel better about yourself and notice nature, and if you care about nature, you’ll care about wildlife,” said Sian Tichar.
“Princess Reema’s initiative, the Catmosphere Foundation, and her flagship campaign, Catwalk, invite people to take a walk and discover the stories of big cats and the challenges they face in interpreting the concept of collective well-being. “, she added.
Tichar said that during the first walkway last year, many people took the opportunity to pick up trash and plant trees.
“I am very proud to be part of the Catwalk team and truly thrilled to see Saudi Arabia leading by example in supporting causes that help promote collective well-being.”
Diriyah Gate CEO Jerry Inzerillo joined this year’s parade in the historic center. Many Saudi scouts were on hand to help and guide participants through the walk, while a Saudi Games mascot greeted the children, and snacks and drinks were provided before and after the walk.
To the northeast of Riyadh’s Catmosphere festivities, Alkhobar Corniche burst into life as locals joined in the annual parade.
Families gathered at a spot overlooking the Alkhobar water tower as excited children – many of whom had their faces painted with the image of a wildcat – joined the march.
“It’s a good turnout and it’s quite interesting for the kids – they’re happy to see something different after a long time. Most of these animals are in the endangered species category, so it’s interesting to see how the artists came up with different variations and colors,” local resident Shaila G. told Arab News.
One of the participating artists, Reem Alsaaq, had her brush handy and added color on the spot.
“I found out about this event through my local artist group. They asked me to paint something live on the cornice and I decided to recreate the image of a wild cat that seems to be thinking about life,” Alsaaq told Arab News.
Laura Masoni discovered the event through her enclosure.
“I am very sensitive to animal and wildlife issues. We are here with my family and my children’s friends just to all be together and do something for a good cause,” she said.
Giovanni Gennari added: “It is a very important cause to protect our environment. It was a good day and a good way to stay away from home, tablets and video games. The day is perfect.
The parade took place at three different locations in the city of Jeddah, including the Corniche, Prince Majed Park and Prince Fawaz Walkway.
Wesam Zailai, General Manager of the Catwalk: “The event is divided into two categories, walking and running, and three distances: 1 km, 3.5 km and 7 km to preserve the Arabian leopard.”
He added: “We have 300 adults and 150 children participating today.”
Saudi participant Abdulrahman Al-Enizi, 43, won first place at the Jeddah Catwalk in Corniche.
After running the 7 km in 24 minutes, Al-Enizi told Arab News: “I am so happy with this initiative, and I have come forward today to support the cause and raise awareness of the need to save the Arabian leopard from extinction. Personally, I enjoy sports, especially walking, which improves both mental and physical health.
Al-Enizi came with his 6-year-old son, Abdulmalik, who joined the 1km category for children.
Arab News also interviewed children in the Kingdom to find out what they know about the Arabian leopard and what could be done to help the endangered species.
Saudi Arabian Raed Jawa, 13, said the Arabian leopard is “considered one of the largest Arabian cats and it is the most endangered animal”.
However, Jawa said her favorite big cat was the lynx. “There are a lot of endangered animals that I love and want to see,” he added.
His sister, Hala, 11, explained that the Arabian leopard belongs to the feline family of carnivorous mammals and is found in the Arabian Peninsula.
“My favorite big cat is the tiger,” she said.
“I’m so glad we have animal conservations in this country because I love animals.”
Bangladeshi Aleena Haque, 9, said her favorite felines are lions, leopards, cheetahs and the Bengal tiger.
She worries that the Arabian leopard is an endangered species. “I’m afraid he’ll disappear because I love animals so much,” she told Arab News.
In 2021, Catmosphere was launched by Princess Reema, Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the United States, who is on a mission to safeguard the future of big cats. The non-profit organization aims to magnify the efforts of Panthera, a US-based charity dedicated to the conservation of 40 species of wild cats.