Snow Leopards on camera
A surprisingly healthy population of rare snow leopards has been caught on camera in the wilds of Afghanistan. Researchers spotted 30 snow leopards in 16 different locations by placing camera traps in the mountains of northeastern Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor.
Snow leopards are threatened by poaching for their fur, the illegal pet trade and shepherds, but researchers with the Wildlife Conservation Society said they were pleasantly surprised by the number of cats they found.
“This is a wonderful discovery – it shows that there is real hope for snow leopards in Afghanistan,” said Peter Zahler, Deputy Director for Asia Programs, in a press release. “Now our goal is to ensure that these magnificent animals have a secure future as a key part of Afghanistan’s natural heritage.”
Conservationists estimate between 4,500 and 7,500 wild snow leopards still live in the remote mountains of Central Asia. Tourism, paired with conservation, they write, could boost both the local economy and the snow leopard’s chances of survival. The Wakhan Corridor, linking Afghanistan and China, is a historical trading route and one of the few peaceful places in Afghanistan. Its people have largely escaped the conflict and strife found elsewhere.
Images: Wildlife Conservation Society.
Citation: “Saving threatened species in Afghanistan: snow leopards in the Wakhan Corridor.” By Anthony Simms, Zalmai Moheb, Salahudin, Hussain Ali, Inayat Ali and Timothy Wood. International Journal of Environmental Studies, June 30, 2011.