ADVERTISEMENT
  About the SA Blog Network













Extinction Countdown

Extinction Countdown


News and research about endangered species from around the world
Extinction Countdown Home

Afghanistan names its first endangered species

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


Email   PrintPrint



afghanistan, snow leopardFor the first time, the government of Afghanistan has banned the hunting, harvesting or trading of 33 species, including the increasingly rare snow leopard (Panthera uncia), the paghman salamander (Paradactylodon mustersi), goitered gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa), and Himalayan elm tree (Ulmus wallichiana). "This is the first law within the current government that protects wildlife," says Peter Zahler, Assistant Director for Asia Programs for the Bronx-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which helped to create the list.

All told, 20 mammals, seven birds, four plants, one amphibian and one insect are now protected.

The species list will be administered by Afghanistan’s National Environment Protection Agency (NEPA) and the Afghanistan Wildlife Executive Committee. Decisions on which species to protect were based on the current scientific studies for Afghanistan and the region, as well as the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, according to the WCS.

This is the first time that snow leopards, which are protected under international law, are also protected in their homeland. According to a WCS statement, snow leopard pelts can be found for sale for up to $1,500, a veritable fortune in Afghanistan.

According to the IUCN Red List, just 100 to 200 snow leopards are estimated to remain in Afghanistan, spread out over a 50,000 square kilometer habitat. Worldwide populations for the species are estimated at 4,000 to 6,000.

Now that this list of species has been established, NEPA will develop recovery plans for the protected species designated as threatened. It will also continue to evaluate new species (WCS says the list could expand to 70 species by the end of the year) and re-evaluate protected species every five years to see if they still deserve protection.

Of course, with a country like Afghanistan, letting local communities know about the new rules, and then enforcing them, is going to be a challenge. "The central government does not reach very far," says Zahler. "It’s very hard to get this information out, and then hard to enforce the rules throughout Afghanistan. A lot of the agencies that do have offices out in the countryside are not well trained."

But that doesn’t mean it’s an impossible task. WCS now plans to work with both government agencies and local communities to spread the word about the new rules, and teach communities to self-manage their own wildlife. "We’re going to need to depend a lot of community self-management," says Zahler. "In the immediate future, the central government will not have strong control over many parts of the country. The local communities often can and will take the steps to enforce these laws.

"This is an enormous step by a country that, in its most recent incarnation, is still very young," says Zahler. "The process of enforcing is slow and laborious, but we’re hoping that over time it will take shape."

Image: Snow leopard, via Wikipedia





Rights & Permissions

Comments 3 Comments

Add Comment
  1. 1. billyname 4:50 pm 06/9/2009

    a good step for a young world.

    Link to this
  2. 2. OXYMAN 5:13 pm 04/11/2011

    friggin farmers …. neanderth”s… It really hurts to know people are still killing these animals but at the same time I understand its all about their lively hoods + getting buy , fur for clothes, meat for food, poachers ~ etc…but by this time in 2011 you would think it may have slowed down??/ not the poaching – if any one of us here had to decide to feed our family or die then we would do such things too … but its the ones that dont need to, like big game hunters and stuff, ahhh… makes me ill. thank fully the gov ‘claims’ to be doing or trying to stop it. Good luck.

    Link to this
  3. 3. lfuechtm 10:25 pm 04/20/2011

    The next time your in a grocery store,I assume you say "thank you, you friggin farmers".

    Link to this

Add a Comment
You must sign in or register as a ScientificAmerican.com member to submit a comment.

More from Scientific American

Scientific American Special Universe

Get the latest Special Collector's edition

Secrets of the Universe: Past, Present, Future

Order Now >

X

Email this Article

X