Conservationists have discovered a healthy population of snow leopards in northeastern Afghanistan, the Wildlife Conservation Society reports.
Rangers trained by the society used camera traps to find the endangered cats at 16 locations in Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor, according to a study that appears in the June 29 issue of the Journal of Environmental Studies.
"This is a wonderful discovery - it shows that there is real hope for snow leopards in Afghanistan," said Peter Zahler, WCS deputy director for Asia programs. "Now our goal is to ensure that these magnificent animals have a secure future as a key part of Afghanistan's natural heritage."
The society estimates 4,500 to 7,500 snow leopards remain in the wild across Central Asia.
The U.S. Agency for International Development has helped fund the study of the economic impact of wildlife and agriculture in Afghanistan, the New York-based society said.