Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Afghan snow leopards

Hemis National Park is best for snow leopards, Tibetan argali sheep, ibex... popularize the plight of the snow leopard and show travelers what’s at stake, researchers from the US-based Snow Leopard Conservancy have teamed up with tour operators to organize winter treks through the park located in Buddhist Ladakh, a trans-Himalayan region in the northwestern Indian state of Jammu-Kashmir (

Tracking the Elusive Snow Leopard of Afghanistan
TJ Winick and Mary Compton
Flight to Asia (WeGoTwo/flickr)
HIMALAYAN RANGE - In Afghanistan, one of the most dangerous places in the world, Boone Smith is on a mission.
Not for the military, but for wildlife organizations that want to track down the most elusive big cat on the planet: The snow leopard of Afghanistan.
“This was my Holy Grail for animals I wanted to catch,” he said.
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and USAID challenged Smith, a fourth-generation big-cat trapper from Idaho, to capture and collar a snow leopard in Afghanistan in just 20 days.
“They’re borderline mythical, legendary,” Smith said. More
A snow leopard recently photographed prowling the mountains of Afghanistan has plenty of company, as revealed by the first camera-trap pictures of the big cats in the war-torn country. The pictures, taken by a team led by the Wildlife Conservation Society, show that a surprisingly robust population of possibly a hundred animals is prowling the remote Wakhan Corridor (see map). Previous estimates have suggested that perhaps only 4,500 to 7,500 snow leopards -- considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature -- live throughout the mountain ranges of Central Asia.

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