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Afghanistan releases its first-ever list of protected species
Date:6/4/2009

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN (June 3, 2009) -- The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) announced today that the Afghanistan's National Environment Protection Agency (NEPA), in an effort to safeguard its natural heritage, has released the country's first-ever list of protected species now banned from hunting or harvest.

The wide-ranging list of endangered and threatened species includes such well known wildlife as snow leopards, wolves, and brown bears, but also lesser-known species such as the paghman salamander, goitered gazelle, and Himalayan elm tree.

The list, consisting of 20 mammals, seven birds, four plants, and a single amphibian and insect, provides legal protection to Afghanistan's wildlife, which have been devastated by more than 30 years of conflict.

NEPA, in partnership with the USAID-funded* Wildlife Conservation Society, the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, and Kabul University created the Afghanistan Wildlife Executive Committee (AWEC) to facilitate the listing process. In July 2008, AWEC began evaluations of species such as the snow leopard, Marco Polo sheep, and Asiatic black bear. To make status determinations, AWEC and WCS worked with world-experts to obtain the most recent and accurate information available for Afghanistan and the region, and then evaluated those data using scientific criteria established by the global authority on species listing the IUCN Red List. By the end of 2009, WCS says the list may be expanded to as many as 70 species.

"The Wildlife Conservation Society commends the Afghanistan's National Environment Protection Agency for showing a continued commitment to conserving its natural heritage even during these challenging times," said Dr. Steven E. Sanderson, President and CEO of WCS. "WCS believes that conservation can often serve as diplomacy, and we are optimistic that this commitment to conservation will benefit all of Afghanistan's people."'/>"/>

Contact: Stephen Sautner
ssautner@wcs.org
718-220-3682
Wildlife Conservation Society
Source:Eurekalert

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