The world’s most elusive big cat, the snow leopard, has been found flourishing in a remote mountainous region of Afghanistan.
Thanks to the dedicated work of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) this rare species was discovered in the Wakhan Corridor between Tajikistan and Pakistan.
According to Joe Walston, Executive Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Asia Program, this was an unexpected discovery.
“By picking up 16 locations we were surprised and greatly pleased to be able to find that snow leopards were not only living in this area still but in relatively healthy numbers in these locations. So this gives us hope that we can conserve the species up there, not just because of the population numbers but also because of support we’ve gotten from local communities.”
A team of Afghan nationals worked alongside foreign wildlife experts representing the WCS placing camera traps around local areas.
Sixteen of these produced the first camera trap photographs ever taken of the species in Afghanistan.
The sheer number of the animals came as a great surprise says Walston.
Walston added that the discovery was particularly gratifying since the snow leopard population is small.
Around 7,500 are scattered across a dozen Central Asian countries.
The snow leopards are popular with poachers who target them for their pelts and unpopular with shepherds who suspect them of eating their cattle.