Conservationists were not aware that the Persian Leopard still roamed the mountains of Afghanistan. But a series of a photographs taken from a camera trap give indisputable evidence that the large predator is still living in the region.
A series of photographs show an adult Persian Leopard as it inspects, then threatens, a camera hidden in the Hindu Kush highlands.
Ghani Ghuriani, Afghanistan’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, said that the presence of a large predator, like the Persian Leopard, “means that the rangelands can still support ibex, urial, and other species, which is a good sign for both wildlife and the people of this region who also depend on these grasslands for grazing.”
MSNBC reports that the Persian Leopard isn’t the only rare animal that has been photographed by camera traps. The Wildlife Conservation Society has snapped photos of a lynx, a stone marten, a red fox, and other wild cats. Unfortunately, the cameras have also captured poachers.
Deputy director of WCS’s Asia program, Peter Zahler, said:
“We are thrilled by these images and the story of survival that they tell, but we were sobered by the fact that the cameras also took photographs of local people walking past with guns. Poaching is still a very real threat, and WCS is committed to helping the Afghan government and local communities protect these rare and beautiful animals.”
Yahoo! reports that the WCS and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have been helping the Afghanistan Government to launch initiatives aimed at protecting its wildlife. The country has created its first ever list of protected species and opened its first national park, Band-e-Amir, in 2009.