Nine months after it created its first list of protected endangered species, the government has added 15 more to the list, including what has been billed as "the world's least-known bird."

The bird, the large-billed reed warbler (Acrocephalus orinus), had only been observed in nature twice—once back in 1867—before its nesting habitat was found in Afghanistan in 2006.

Afghan law automatically protects any new species discovered within its borders.

The 15 newly protected species were evaluated by the new Afghanistan Wildlife Executive Committee, which includes among its advisors the Bronx, N.Y.–based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). In a prepared statement Peter Zahler, deputy director of WCS's Asia Program, praised the additions to the list: "By formally protecting the large-billed reed warbler as well as other wildlife, Afghanistan's National Environment[al] Protection Agency has shown a strong commitment to conserving its natural heritage—even during these challenging times."

The 14 other newly protected species are:

  • Bactrian deer (Cervus elaphus bactrianus)
  • Blanford's fox (Vulpes cana)
  • Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus crispus)
  • East Himalayan fir (Abies spectabilis)
  • eastern barbastelle (Barbastella leucomela)
  • eastern imperial eagle (Aquila heliacal)
  • goitered gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa)
  • Indian gazelle, (G. bennetti)
  • marbled teal (Marmaronetta angustirostris)
  • Mehely's horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus mehelyi)
  • Pallas's fish eagle (Haliaeetus leucoryphus)
  • sociable lapwing (Vanellus gregarious)
  • stone marten (Martes foina)
  • white-rumped vulture (Gyps bengalensis)

Afghanistan now protects 48 species.

Image: Large-billed reed warbler (Acrocephalus orinus), the "world's least-known bird," courtesy of WCS–Afghanistan