Afghanistan protects newly rediscovered rare bird

Feb 28, 2010 By KAY JOHNSON , Associated Press Writer
Mustafa Zahir, director-general Afghanistan's National Environment Protection Agency, shows a photo of a rare bird during a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010. Afghanistan's fledging conservation agency moved Sunday to protect one of the world's rarest birds after the species was rediscovered in the war-ravaged country's northeastern mountains. (AP Photo/Ahmad Nazar)

(AP) -- Afghanistan's fledging conservation agency moved Sunday to protect one of the world's rarest birds after the species was rediscovered in the war-ravaged country's northeast.

The remote Pamir Mountains are the only known breeding area of the large-billed , a species so elusive that it had been documented only twice before in more than a century.

A researcher with the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society stumbled upon the tiny, olive-brown bird during a wildlife survey in 2008 and taped its distinctive song. Later, a research team caught and released 20 of the - the largest number ever recorded.

On Sunday, Afghanistan's National Environment Protection Agency added the large-billed reed warbler to its list of protected species, which was established only last year.

Mustafa Zahir, the agency's director-general, acknowledged the difficulties of trying to protect wildlife in a country preoccupied with the Taliban insurgency. On Friday, suicide attackers killed 16 people in Kabul, the capital, and thousands of Afghan and NATO forces are fighting to root out the hard-line Islamists from their southern stronghold.

But Zahir, who is the grandson of Afghanistan's former king, said the discovery of the large-billed reed warbler provided some welcome positive news.

"It is not true that our country is full of only bad stories," Zahir said. "This bird, after so many years, has been discovered here. Everyone thought it was extinct."

The bird's discovery in Afghanistan kicked off a small flurry in conservation circles.

The large-billed reed warbler was first documented in India in 1867 but wasn't found again until 2006 - with a single bird in Thailand. The Pamir Mountains, in the sparsely populated Badakhshan province near China, is now home to the world's only known large population of the bird.

The Afghan environmental agency also added 14 other species to the protected list on Sunday. It now includes 48 species including the rare , the Asiatic cheetah and the markhor, a type of wild goat with large spiral horns.

While conservation efforts are in their infancy in Afghanistan, there have been some recent successes. Authorities in Badakhshan last week seized a snow leopard from villagers who had trapped it and planned to sell it. The snow leopard - one of an estimated 150 left in the wild - will be freed once its injuries from the trap are healed, Zahir said.

Explore further: Birds 'weigh' peanuts and choose heavier ones

0 shares

Related Stories

Rare bird's breeding ground found in Afghanistan

Jan 18, 2010

(AP) -- The first known breeding area of one of the world's rarest birds has been found in the remote and rugged Pamir Mountains in war-torn Afghanistan, a New York-based conservation group said Monday.

World's least known bird rediscovered

Jan 25, 2010

A species of bird, which has only been observed alive on three previous occasions since it was first discovered in 1867, has been rediscovered in a remote land corridor in north-eastern Afghanistan. The discovery ...

Afghanistan releases its first-ever list of protected species

Jun 04, 2009

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) announced today that the Afghanistan's National Environment Protection Agency (NEPA), in an effort to safeguard its natural heritage, has released the country's first-ever list of protected ...

Recommended for you

11 new species come to light in Madagascar

5 hours ago

Madagascar is home to extraordinary biodiversity, but in the past few decades, the island's forests and associated biodiversity have been under greater attack than ever. Rapid deforestation is affecting the ...

Birds 'weigh' peanuts and choose heavier ones

May 23, 2015

Many animals feed on seeds, acorns or nuts. The common feature of these are that they have shells and there is no direct way to know what's inside. How do the animals know how much and what quality of food ...

Estuaries protect Dungeness crabs from deadly parasites

May 22, 2015

Parasitic worms can pose a serious threat to the Dungeness crab, a commercially important fishery species found along the west coast of North America. The worms are thought to have caused or contributed to ...

An evolutionary heads-up—the brain size advantage

May 22, 2015

A larger brain brings better cognitive performance. And so it seems only logical that a larger brain would offer a higher survival potential. In the course of evolution, large brains should therefore win ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.