Protected Species List Released By NEPA

by Abdullah Qazi

June 4, 2009

Afghanistan's National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) has officially released Afghanistan's first ever list of protected species. The species on this list are now protected against illegal hunting or harvest. NEPA, with help from the Wildlife Conservation Society, Kabul University and the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, created the Afghanistan Wildlife Executive Committee (AWEC) to facilitate the listing process. 33 species are currently on the list, which includes 20 mammals, seven birds, four plants, an amphibian and an insect. The list includes well known species such as the snow leopard (Panthera uncia), the wolf and the brown bear, as well as lesser-known species such as the Paghman salamander (Paradactylodon mustersi), goitered gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa), Saker falcon (Falco cherrug), markhor (Capra falconeri), and the Himalayan elm tree (Ulmus wallichiana). By the end of this year, the list may grow up to 70 species.

The releasing of the much needed list comes at a very critical time as Hamid Karzai's Presidential Decree banning hunting in the country expired in March 2009. Now thanks to this effort, Afghanistan's wildlife which is part of the overall Afghan natural heritage can be protected. NEPA's job includes managing these protected species by writing up recovery plans for the threatened species. They will re-evaluate the species every five years to see if the populations have recovered to the point where they can be removed from the protected species list.

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