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Amazing night footage of snow leopard in war zone

World first for Snow Leopard Blog! A story about a soldier standing night guard at a small outpost who recognised one of the world’s most endangered and rare cats. Sergeant Carl Duke (US Army) sent me this amazing footage using advanced technology to film the snow leopard eight (!) kilometers in the distance. This was in the war zone on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Carl told the intriguing story of how the footage was obtained.

“This video was made in the late fall of 2008 at Combat Outpost Lowell near Kamu, Kamdesh District, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan.  In the middle of the night SGT G was on guard scanning the surrounding hills when he spotted the animal with its give-away long thick tail. Fortunately, he had his personal camera on him and put it up to the screen of the LRAS3 (Long-Range Advance Scout Surveillance System) and pushed record.”

Location of night footage of snow leopard

Click image for close-up of the rugged mountains on the Afghanistan and Pakistan border where these videos were taken.

Carl said the snow leopard was most likely hunting for monkeys or livestock.

During his tour in Afghanistan Carl made a point of asking locals what they knew about snow leopards.  “Some people complained about them, one person said if you eat them you become more virile, another said someone had captured a cub and sold it a few years ago in Chawkay District, Konar Province.  One man claimed snow leopards shoot steel claws 15 meters!”

Long range advance scout surveillance system LRAS3. Photo Raytheon.

Naturally there’s little in the way of snow leopard research or conservation in this country, especially here in the dangerous border region, so it’s important any information be shared and Carl should be congratulated for his interest and concern about snow leopards. Carl said he hoped one day to go back to Afghanistan “I’ve heard a lot of great things about Afghanistan during the 60’s and 70’s. There’s so much I’d like to see and enjoy in Afghanistan – it’s just too dangerous now.”

Well done Carl, looking forward to hearing more about this story!

{ 11 comments… add one }

  • Brenton JH February 6, 2010, 12:54 am

    Truly amazing footage. I am sure Carl would have rather seen the Snow Leopard out in the darkness than the Taliban!

  • Bilal Habib February 9, 2010, 9:32 am

    Amazing – i always wished to be in Nuristan to see the cats. Carl great job. Conservation organization should focus in such areas quickly.

  • ASHIQ AHMAD KHAN February 9, 2010, 4:39 am

    This was amazing footage. Carl is to be congratulated. The efforts are appreciated and, surely, this shall be the beginning of conservation initiative in the specified zone, sooner or later. This could also be the target of trans-boundary collaboration between Pakistan and Afghanistan for the protection of snow leopards in the border region. Credit shall always go to Carl. Carl may join the snow leopard network.

    Ashiq Ahmad Khan
    Chairman, Steering Committee, Snowleopard network

  • Sibylle February 9, 2010, 4:49 am

    Hi Ashiq
    lets all hope you are right about this trans-border collaboration! Would be a wonderful thing to see the remaining snow leopards saved in this region. I feel the action must be soon.

  • Safdar Ali Shah February 9, 2010, 5:34 am

    Thanks to Carl who make it possible for all of us to confirm presence of Snow leopard in the war tor zone of Afghanistan and Pakistan. No doubt the area of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan along with the Nooristan Province support handsome population of Snow Leopard and is thriving there but the same remained a question mark on the other side of the boarder.
    I wish to see the dream of Mr Ashiq Ahmad Khan come true to have a transe border nation park to ensure protection of the snow leopard and other allied species before it is too late.
    Nevertheless, efforts of Carl are tremendous and the credit must go to him though side by side it is high time for the SLN and other conservation organisation to think about the capacity building of the concerned departments haveing presence in each nook and corner of the country to amaze us with such information on a sustainable basis. Had Carl would have not been equiped with those high tech equipments, probably we would have not enjoyed this news item.
    Congratulation to Carl and all those who realy care,

    With Best wishes,
    Safdar Ali Shah
    Conservator Wildlife Northern Circle
    NWFP Wildlife Department,

  • Dr. Bashir Ahmed Wani February 9, 2010, 10:31 am

    Using High-Tech to spot a Snow Leopard in war zone by Carl and sharing the live picture with us is fascinating. I think Ashiq’s dream of transboundary collaboration on protection of remaining wild cats in border areas will get a big boost following Carl’s entry into SL Network. All thanks to Carl for such an excellent footage.

  • Christian Deniel August 30, 2011, 8:58 am

    It looks like a big cat if you compare it’s size to the rocks or the trees but it’s maybe not a snow-leopard, it could be a common leopard (Persian or Indian leopard) present in this area.
    It’s told that the Caspian tiger (officially considered as extinct since nearly 40 years) could still roam in Afghanistan too, a pair of these big cats would have been captured in Laghman province (not far from the place of this footage) in 1997.
    It’s would be good that Carl or an another soldier ask the locals if they heard about the tiger presence.

  • Sibylle August 30, 2011, 11:20 am

    thanks Christian, interesting to hear about the Tiger, I think it is one animal no-one has considered so far for this night footage. The WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) is doing a lot of snow leopard research in this area, perhaps they may be aware of the situation with tiger there.

  • Justin Hall July 10, 2012, 3:46 am

    Dear All. I absolutely love this footage. Does anyone in the group know how i might get in contact with Carl as would really like to interview him about this extraordinary encounter.

    With hope someone can help….
    wonderful site.

    +44 07950 104136

  • Sibylle July 11, 2012, 12:26 pm

    Hi Justin
    thanks, glad you like the “Saving Snow Leopards” website. I have sent you an email to connect with Carl. Best regards, Sibylle

  • Sibylle August 15, 2012, 5:07 pm

    Hi Justin, I hope you got in touch with Carl re Afghanistan snow leopard footage.

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