June 27, 2011
Crested porcupine. Credit: WCS-Afghanistan
The research is based on camera-trap surveys, transect surveys, and DNA identification of wildlife scat in the eastern province of Nuristan from 2006-2009. It is the first wildlife census of the war-torn province since 1977.
The work — conducted by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) scientists — confirmed the presence of several important species, including the first documented sighting of the common palm civet in Afghanistan, in the region’s montane deciduous and coniferous forests. Other wildlife included crested porcupine, leopard cat, Asiatic black bear, Asiatic brown bear, markhor, yellow-throated marten, red fox, and rhesus macaque, as well as unknown wild dogs and cats.
Asiatic black bear.
Palm civet. Credits: WCS-Afghanistan
Most wildlife work in Afghanistan is funded by USAID. WCS says the investment in resource management projects in conflict regions is a way to "stabilize areas without military intervention, potentially saving U.S. money and lives."
"About 80 percent of Afghanistan’s people depends directly on the country’s natural resources for their survival," said Peter Zahler, Deputy Director for the WCS Asia Program. "USAID has shown great insight in recognizing the importance of natural resource management for the country’s continued stability and reconstruction."
To date the effortss have resulted in the creation of Afghanistan’s first national park – Band-e-Amir – which is now "co-managed by the government and a committee consisting of all 14 communities living around the park," according to WCS.
CITATION: Stevens et al. Large mammals surviving conflict in the eastern forests of Afghanistan. Oryx, 45(2), 265–271.
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Apple's Snow Leopard helps real-life cats
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Photos: snow leopard in Afghanistan
(08/31/2009) Using camera traps, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has captured the elusive and rare snow leopard on film in Afghanistan for a second time. The feline was caught on film in the Sast Valley in Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor. The snow leopard is currently listed as Endangered by the IUCN. The cat is also listed as protected under Afghanistan's new endangered species list, which outlaws hunting it. The IUCN estimates that only 100-200 snow leopards still survive in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan announces first national park on Earth Day
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Wildlife conservation in Afghanistan?
An interview with Dr. Alex Dehgan, Afghanistan Country Director for the Wildlife Conservation Society
(08/07/2007) Few people associate Afghanistan with wildlife and it would come as a surprise to many that the war-torn, but fledging democracy is home to snow leopards, Persian leopards, five species of canid (wild dog), Marco Polo Sheep, Asiatic Black Bear, Brown Bears, Striped Hyenas, and numerous bird of prey species.