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First Afghanistan snow leopards captured and radio collared

First snow leopard to be fitted with a satellite collar in Afghanistan. Photo Anthony Simms, WCS.

Last year the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) found snow leopards in the Wakhan Corridor in the north eastern part of Afghanistanafter local local rangers had positioned cameras at 16 locations through the previously war torn mountains. Now researchers from WCS and Afghan veterinarians revealed this week that they have successfully captured, tagged and released two male snow leopards (one on May 27th and the other June 8th). As part of a capture protocol cats are always weighed, measured, have DNA sample taken and then fitted with a satellite collar. Cats are watched for some time after release to make sure they have not been harmed by the experience. Since being fitted with the collars the satellite information shows that the first cat collared, named “Pahlawan”, has traveled more about 120 km (75 miles) since being release, while the second cat, “Khani Wakhai”, more than 145 km (90 miles). “These captures are sensational,” David Lawson, the WCS Afghanistan country director, said. “They are also a real tribute to the knowledge of the local community rangers and the success of our recent camera trapping efforts, which enabled the team to select spots that were known to be frequented by snow leopards.” We look forward to hearing more about these cats over the coming year and wish them and the researchers well.

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