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The Killid Group
Endangered wildlifeWritten by Gulalai Stanekzai and Nasrat Elham
Saturday, 28 January 2012 16:10
A flourishing trade in exotic birds and fur from wild animals and hunting threatens wildlife in Afghanistan.
Many species are also endangered by a loss of habitat because of reckless logging. Provinces that are particularly seriously hit are Laghman, Kunar, Nangarhar and Nuristan.
Local people who were interviewed confirmed that the population of wild animals and birds has noticeably shrunk in these four provinces. Kunar's residents say the famous Marco Polo sheep and elusive snow leopard have almost vanished from the snow-bound region. The world's largest sheep - fully grown they weigh up to 135 kgs - were first reported by the Italian traveller Marco Polo in 1273. Indiscriminate hunting by poor livestock herders, as well as border police and the military, may be to blame for the fewer Marco Polo sheep.
Uncontrolled hunting, despite a five-year ban on hunting from 2005, has nearly wiped out populations of Asiatic Black Bear and Gray Wolf around Spin Ghar (white mountain) and the valley of Dara Noor in Nangarhar.
Engineer Shah Mahmood Mohmand, regional director of the Environmental Protection Agency, Nangarhar province, said the jungles of Nuristan, valleys of Dawlat Shah and Alingar in Laghman province and the vast skirts of the Spin Ghar mountain in Nangarhar province were rich in animal and bird life. "But the cutting of natural forests created a serious problem due to which wild animals and birds have migrated or perished," he said.
Some 45 different species of animals and birds including the hawk and sparrow-hawk, have been reported. Homayoon Jalal, manager of the wild animals survey and study, a department in the Ministry of Agriculture, said animals were smuggled across the border to Iran and Pakistan.
"The hawk, deer, wolf, monkey, doves and wild birds are very common in the western provinces, but there is concern that some species may be endangered," said Jalal. The ministry plans to recruits local people in Kunar and Nuristan as guards to protect the wildlife, he added.
Smugglers dealing in rare birds from the western provinces were caught by Herat officials recently, Abdul Qayoom Afghan the director of Heart's Environment Protection Agency, said.
Conservationist, Mohammad Alem Gharanai, said that if the government were to raise public awareness about the need to save wildlife "they would be safe".