Afghanistan encompasses the far western range extent of the snow leopard’s distribution.

Included within Afghanistan’s range is the Wakhan Corridor, the narrow panhandle of land in Badakhshan province (in the far northeast of the country) that connects Afghanistan with China.

Wakhan is renowned for its wildlife, being home of Afghanistan’s only populations of Marco Polo sheep (Ovis ammon polii) and various other threatened species, including snow leopards.

Wakhan is also the “corner” of Asia’s great mountains, and connects snow leopard ranges in the east such as the Pamirs, Karakorams, and Himalayas with the Altais, Kunluns, Tien Shans and other ranges to the north. At the international snow leopard conservation conference in 2008, Wakhan was identified by experts as a global priority Snow Leopard Conservation Unit.

Previous estimates for snow leopards in Afghanistan placed the number at only around 100 animals, but this was based entirely on an estimate of appropriate habitat in the country and the likely density of snow leopards, not actual data.

Since 2009, the National Environmental Protection Agency of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan with the cooperation of Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and community rangers has used camera traps, which have documented snow leopards in Wakhan. The surveys have produced a high frequency of photos, to-date; over 1,300 capture events have been recorded across 20 different locations in the landscape.

This suggests that Wakhan is a particularly rich area for snow leopards and a global priority site for their conservation (Simms, A., Moheb, Z., Salahudin, Ali, H., Ali, I., and Wood, T. (2011) Saving threatened species in Afghanistan: snow leopards in the Wakhan Corridor. International Journal of Environmental Studies, 68(3): 299-312).

National Snow Leopard & Ecosystem Protection Plan:
Download as PDF: Afghanistan_NSLEP

Mr. Schah Zamman Maiwandi
Director General, National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA)
Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Designated National Focal Point:
Mr. Idrees Malyar
Deputy Director General-Policy and International Affairs
Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan