News from a recent snow leopard study in Afghanistan suggests the war torn nation may have a healthy cat population in the mountains of the northeastern Wakhan Corridor. The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), supported by USAID, used camera traps to photograph the solitary and shy cats. The study has been reported in the June 29 issue of the Journal of Environmental Studies and was conducted by WCS conservationists Anthony Simms, Zalmai Moheb, Salahudin, Hussain Ali, Inayat Ali and Timothy Wood. The scientists trained local rangers to position the camera technology at 16 locations in the vast mountain region. Anthony Simms says “The camera trapping that has been conducted in Wakhan to date has primarily been aimed at training our rangers to use the technology, not for scientific purposes. However, we are just preparing to commence a snow leopard mark-recapture survey across a large swathe of the Hindu Kush mountains.”
If indeed the photos show individual cats and not the same few leopards in many shots this is welcome news that after many years of conflict the cats have not been killed or chased away. The WCS is to be commended for this work as well as the involvement of local communities to benefit people and the snow leopards in this corner of snow leopard habitat. See more photos on Snow Leopard Network website.