The Wildlife Conservation Society reports a surprising discovery of snow leopards in northeastern Afghanistan, caught in images by researchers using camera traps.
According to the story on CNN, the leopards have been found in one of the few locations in Afghanistan unaffected by war. The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) says that these are the first camera trap photos taken of snow leopards in Afghanistan. “This is a wonderful discovery — it shows that there is real hope for snow leopards in Afghanistan…Now our goal is to ensure that these magnificent animals have a secure future as a key part of Afghanistan’s natural heritage,” said Peter Zahler, deputy director of WCS.
The endangered snow leopards have been nearly wiped out due to poaching, being targeted by shepherds who believe the leopards attack their livestock, and have also fallen victim to illegal trade of big cats. This new discovery gives some hope that their population, declined 20% in the past 16 years and now estimated to consist of 4,500-7,500 snow leopards in the wild of Central Asia, may recover.