The flagship species of the Pamir mountain range, Marco Polo sheep traverse the remote and precipitous areas of Big Pamir, LIttle Pamir and the Wakhjir Valley of Northeast Afghanistan. WCS addresses both habitat disturbance and hunting to improve conservation outcomes for this majestic species.
To date, some of WCS’s key results include:
- Increasing Government Capacity: Capacity building of provincial and central government counterparts to protect and manage the Marco Polo sheep population.
- Conducting Foundational Research: Extensive surveys to estimate population size and connectivity, and understand range, diet, habitat condition and threats.
- Establishing Protected Areas: WCS research informed the establishment of the Wakhan National Park (enclosing all of the distribution range of Marco Polo sheep in Afghanistan), the heartland of Afghanistan’s Marco Polo sheep population. WCS played an integral role in the park’s creation and ongoing management.
- Reduced Disease Threat: WCS implemented transboundary surveys of livestock diseases in the Pamirs between Tajikistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan and facilitated acceptance of an integrated approach to the study of diseases that affect both wildlife and livestock.
- Improving Community Awareness: WCS has conducted extensive public outreach programs within communities across the Wakhan, teaching about the economic and societal benefits of conserving Marco Polo sheep.