Afghanistan Protects Rare Bird, Snow Leopard, and Other Species

snow leopard photo

Image credit: ltshears/Flickr

The government of Afghanistan may be focused on routing the Taliban insurgency but increasingly, the country has found ways to enact basic environmental protections as well. The growing list of protected endangered species is just one example of these efforts.

Only a year old, the list received several new additions this weekend, including the recently re-discovered large-billed reed warbler.The warbler—called the "world's least-known bird species"—was first spotted in India in 1867 and wasn't seen again until a sighting was made in Thailand in 2006. Then, in 2008, researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society discovered a breeding ground for the bird high in Afghanistan's Pamir Mountains.

Mustafa Zahir, director of Afghanistan's National Environment Protection Agency, announced that the bird would be protected in its only known breeding ground by inclusion on the country's fledgling endangered species list.

"It is not true that our country is full of only bad stories," Zahir told the Associated Press, "this bird, after so many years, has been discovered here. Everyone thought it was extinct."

markhor photo

The markhor, a species of wild goat, is also included in Afghanistan's endangered species list. Image credit: auburnxc/Flickr

In addition to the reed warbler, 14 other species also received designation on the list, which now includes 48 species in total. Other species include the snow leopard, Asian cheetah, and the markhor—a wild goat with curling horns.

Though conservation efforts are still in the earliest stages of planning and implementation in Afghanistan, they have already produced results. Last week, authorities seized a snow leopard that had been trapped by villagers intending to sell the rare animal. Once some injuries is sustained in the trap have healed, Zahir explained during his announcement, the leopard will be returned to the wild.

Read more about conservation in Afghanistan:
Bird Spotted Just Twice in 139 Years Found Breeding in Northeastern Afghanistan (UPDATED)
Why Conservation Matters in Conflict Zones
American University Students Help Create Afghanistan's First List of Protected Species
Afghan People Capitalize on Endangered Species by Selling to U.S. Soldiers
Country's First National Park an Oasis in War-Torn Afghanistan

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