A healthy number of endangered snow leopards population, big cats facing threats across their habitats in the mountain ranges of Central Asia, has been found in Afghanistan’s remote northeast mountains.
Camera traps captured shots and documented the secretive, usually solitary animals at 16 different locations across the Wakhan Corridor, a long panhandle in north eastern Afghanistan free from the insurgency that plagues most of the country, the World Conservation Society said in a statement. The big cats live among the dramatic peaks of the desolate Wakhan Corridor, a narrow strip of land 220 miles long, and sandwiched between Tajikistan to the north, Pakistan to the south and a tiny border with China to the east.
Snow Leopards can have a future in Afghanistan
Camera traps captured shots of the spotted cats at 16 locations across the region, the first time the technology has been used in Afghanistan to document the rare animals.
Listed as one of the globally endangered species, only some 4,500 to 7,500 snow leopards exist in wild life, scattered across a dozen nations in the high mountain ranges of Central Asia.
Snow Leopards : Hunted for enhanced sexual performance
The cats are poached for their pelts and hunted down by shepherds guarding their flocks upon which the leopards sometimes prey.
The sleek, fuzzy-tailed leopards are also captured for the pet trade, while an increasing demand for their genitalia and bones in China, where some believe they enhance sexual performance, has also led to their decimation.
Snow Leopard Discovery : Hope for endangered species
“This is a wonderful discovery. It shows there is real hope for snow leopard population in Afghanistan. Now our goal is to ensure that these magnificent animals have a secure future as part of Afghanistan’s natural heritage,” Peter Zahler, the World Conservation Society’s deputy Asia director, stated.
The New York-based group has been working in the Wakhan Corridor, which borders China, Pakistan and Tajikistan, since 2006 on protecting wildlife including the Marco Polo sheep and the ibex. George Schaller, a wildlife biologist with the society, has proposed creating a reserve in the region.
The statement did not estimate the number of snow leopards in the region, however indicated they remained threatened.
The society, which works with the US government’s aid arm, USAid, is providing conservation education in every Wakhan school, has trained 59 rangers to monitor wildlife, constructed predator-proof livestock corrals and started an insurance scheme to compensate shepherds for livestock taken by predators such as snow leopards, according to the statement.
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Snow Leopard, Snow Leopards, Snow Leopard Afghanistan, Snow Leopard shot, World Conservation Society, Wildlife, Wild Life, Endangered Species