Survey results from WCS have indicated the significant role of the international community in driving the demand for wildlife furs, particularly by military and development personnel. In Afghanistan, certain species are also taken from the wild and sold for the pet trade. There is also a trade in saker falcon and possibly houbara bustard from Afghanistan, to supply those buyers on the Arabian Peninsula involved in the lucrative sport of falconry. WCS has conducted surveys to identify threats, outreach to key stakeholders and facilitated legislative protection to prevent and reduce the trade in wildlife.
- Reducing demand for wildlife products: WCS found the military and development community were driving much of the demand for wildlife products, particularly furs. WCS launched a public diplomacy/awareness campaign to educate this audience about Afghanistan’s wildlife. Posters were placed in popular restaurants, Provincial Reconstruction Team bases, Kabul Airport, military bases, and other key locations. Several advertisements, editorials and articles were featured in expatriate magazines and Afghan newspapers. Furthermore, to encourage full participation of foreign governments, WCS wrote to all governments represented in Afghanistan about the problem of wildlife trade, including a copy of the poster and an identification guide to wildlife products restricted for international trade.
- Improving enforcement: WCS has achieved notable success in reducing the export of wildlife products out of the country and has responded to numerous reports of suspected wildlife trade over the past five years. This has involved evicting and confiscating catches from falcon trappers in Band-e-Amir, comprehensive training of Military Police at Bagram Air Base and Military Market, Camp Eggers and Camp Phoenix, Kabul Airport customs authorities, airport police, staff at the US Embassy, and fur traders from one of Kabul’s main shopping streets. Training topics have included skin and fur identification and the legal implications of wildlife trade.
- Reducing sales of wildlife furs on military bases: WCS and the US Department of State have conducted multiple surveys of the bazaars at Bagram, International Security Assistance Force Headquarters and Camp Eggers, helping police identify a number of restricted fur items and remove them from sale.
- Established policies to protect threatened species: WCS also continues to provide technical assistance to the Government for introducing a listing program that evaluates the status of species to determine whether they should be ‘Protected’ (prohibiting all hunting and trade of their derivatives). Currently there are a total of 149 species on the country’s official Protected Species List.
- Monitoring potential infectious disease spread: Wildlife trade also has an influence on the spread of infectious diseases, which directly threaten wildlife, livestock and human populations. Between 2007 and 2013, WCS veterinary and legal teams have been working together to determine the contribution of trade towards disease transmission in Afghanistan, involving regular assessments at Kabul Zoo, local wildlife product merchants and Ka Farushi Bird Market.
- Understanding threats to endangered saker falcons and other falcons: In 2007, WCS staff also travelled to Mazar-e-Sharif in the northern province of Balkh to investigate the occurrence and extent of the falcon trade there. These surveys provide the country with more data to monitor and evaluate the risks to public health as a result of wildlife trade.