Wildlife Conservation Society researchers working with local community rangers in Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor recently captured several elusive snow leopards – digitally that is. Using remote cameras that automatically photograph animals when an infrared beam is tripped, the WCS team has taken a total of 22 snow leopard images so far. Afghanistan is thought to only have about 100 snow leopards left in the country, but the fact that 4 out of 5 camera traps captured snow leopard images suggests that there is hope that the population can recover. WCS, with funding from USAID*, is working to establish the Wakhan Corridor as a protected area to safeguard the region's wildlife. In April, WCS worked with Afghanistan's National Environment Protection Agency to establish the nation's first-ever national park in Band-e-Amir. On June 3, Afghanistan announced the first-ever list of Protected Species, developed with WCS assistance, that officially protects snow leopards as well as other threatened wildlife species. On June 11th, the Wildlife Conservation Society's Central Park Zoo will debut to the Press the Allison Maher Stern Snow Leopard Exhibit to showcase conservation efforts to safeguard this elusive and endangered big cat.

Photos taken first week of June 2009 in the Wakhan Corridor in northeastern Afghanistan.

*This program is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), under the terms of USAID/Afghanistan Leader with Associates Cooperative Agreement No. 306-A-00-06-00501-00. The contents of this press release are the responsibility of the Wildlife Conservation Society and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.