WAKHAN CORRIDOR, AFGHANISTAN, (July 17, 2012) Two snow leopards were captured, fitted with satellite collars, and released for the first time in Afghanistan by a team of Wildlife Conservation Society conservationists and Afghan veterinarians conducting research during a recent expedition.
The team successfully captured and released the male snow leopards on May 27 and June 8 respectively. Each cat was weighed, measured, fitted with a Vectronix satellite collar, and DNA samples were taken. After DNA samples, the healthy snow leopards were released and headed up the Hindu Kush Mountains in good condition. The big cats will be tracked by WCS to better understand their behavior and range. So far, the first snow leopard, Pahlawan, has travelled more than 125 kilometers; while the second cat, Khani Wakhai, has travelled more than 153 kilometers.
The veterinary team, including WCS's Dr. Stephane Ostrowski and two Afghan colleagues Dr. Ali Madad and Dr Hafizullah Noori, conducted the tranquilizing process at the capture sites along with Nat Geo WILD's Boone Smith, an expert tracker who traveled to Afghanistan for the project with the Nat Geo WILD film crew.
The work was generously supported by the National Geographic Society, Nat Geo WILD and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
An adult snow leopard stands about two feet at the shoulder and weighs between 60 and 120 pounds. The snow leopard is an alpine rock-climbing specialist with large paws that are ideally adapted to both rocky terrain and deep snow drifts and thick fur to stay warm.
David Lawson, WCS Afghanistan Country Director, said: "These captures are sensational. They are also a real tribute to the knowledge of the local community rangers and the success of our recent camera trapping efforts, which enabled the team to select spots that were known to be frequented by snow leopards."
The range of the snow leopard includes ab
|Contact: Stephen Sautner|
Wildlife Conservation Society