Snow Leopard

Afghanistan is one of the twelve countries inhabited by the rare and exquisite snow leopard. The species resides in the country’s remote and peaceful Wakhan Corridor in the northern province of Badakhshan and at the eastern Afghanistan/Pakistan border in the provinces of Nuristan and Badakhshan. To protect snow leopards, WCS conducts foundational research, reduces illegal trade in snow leopard skins, protects snow leopard prey, establishes legislative protection, and works with communities to prevent retaliatory killing after livestock losses.

CONDUCTING FOUNDATIONAL RESEARCH:  Since the spring of 2009, WCS and WCS-trained community ranger teams have deployed camera traps (yielding over 5,000 pictures of snow leopards!) and collected evidence of snow leopard presence, such as territorial scrapes and urine sprays, snow leopard kills and scat, and their pug marks in the snow. WCS teams also conducted the first ever satellite telemetry study on snow leopards in Afghanistan. With the research done to date, the population in Afghanistan is probably close to 200 individuals, higher than previously speculated.


PROMOTING SPECIES PROTECTION: Based on WCS research, in 2014, WCS proudly facilitated the process of creating the Wakhan National Park, which now protects roughly 70% of snow leopard habitat in the country. In addition, the Afghan government’s National Environmental Protection Agency officially listed the snow leopard as a legally protected species in 2009 and WCS helped draft the National Snow Leopard Ecosystem Protection Plan in 2013.


REDUCING ILLEGAL TRADE IN SNOW LEOPARD SKINS: In 2006, WCS found that the military was driving demand for snow leopard and other endangered species products via markets set up on military bases. In close coordination with the US military, and the US Department of State, WCS conducted training sessions for military police, soldiers and Afghan vendors to raise awareness regarding laws prohibiting wildlife trade and the impact of the trade on wildlife in Afghanistan. These efforts resulted in very few prohibited wildlife furs found in follow up visits to military bases.


HELPING FARMERS: Snow leopards occasionally kill livestock, which can be devastating for a small-scale farmer. To prevent livestock losses and reduce the desire for farmers to retaliate against snow leopards, WCS has built 35 predator-safe communal corrals across the Wakhan and made improvements to a number of household corrals.

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