December 7, 2011
Rare Persian Leopard Caught On Camera Traps
A rare Persian leopard has been photographed in camera traps in Afghanistan's central highlands by conservationists.
Biologists from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) set up camera traps in the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan.
They found that the world's largest leopard, a Persian leopard, had made an encounter with the cameras.
The leopard is listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List, and is considered a subspecies that was thought to have vanished from the Hindu Kush.
The WCS biologists also found photos of lynx, wild cat, Eurasian wolf, red fox, and stone marten in the camera traps.
The researchers said that the discovery also notes that the photos show one of the primary treats to Persian leopards, humans.
"We were sobered by the fact that the cameras also took photographs of local people walking past with guns. Poaching is still a very real threat, and WCS is committed to helping the Afghan government and local communities protect these rare and beautiful animals," Peter Zahler, deputy director of WCS's Asia Program said in a press release.
Persian leopards are found in Iran, Turkmenistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Afghanistan, and parts of Russia and Turkey.
Their population has dropped due to poachers, a decline in prey and from habitat loss. Scientists believe that there are less than 1,200 Persian leopards surviving.
Image Caption: Persian leopard captured on camera trap in Afghanistan. Photo by: WCS Afghanistan Program.
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