Planet Earth

Here be snow leopards!

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanJul 14, 2011 5:32 AM

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I really love the fact that I live in the early 21st century for a host of reasons. That being said, one aspect that's certainly true is that when it comes to charismatic natural variety and geography there are very few "blank spots" on the map. You can get a sense of what I'm talking about if you browse National Geographic from the early 20th century. Most of the map had been filled in, but there were still nooks and crannies waiting to be illuminated. So I always find stories like this interesting, because they capture a sliver of the wonder that once was so commonplace, Snow Leopard Population Discovered in Afghanistan:

The Wildlife Conservation Society has discovered a surprisingly healthy population of rare snow leopards living in the mountainous reaches of northeastern Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor, according to a new study.

The paper is in the International Journal of Environmental Studies, Saving threatened species in Afghanistan: snow leopards in the Wakhan Corridor:

The Wakhan Corridor in northeast Afghanistan is an area known for relatively abundant wildlife and it appears to represent Afghanistan’s most important snow leopard landscape. The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has been working in Wakhan since 2006. Recent camera trap surveys have documented the presence of snow leopards at 16 different locations in the landscape. These are the first camera trap records of snow leopards in Afghanistan. Threats to snow leopards in the region include the fur trade, retaliatory killing by shepherds and the capture of live animals for pets. WCS is developing an integrated management approach for this species, involving local governance, protection by a cadre of rangers, education, construction of predator-proof livestock corrals, a livestock insurance program, tourism and research activities. This management approach is expected to contribute significantly to the conservation of snow leopards and other wildlife species in the Wakhan.

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