Threatened Mammals of Afghanistan

A stamp printed in Afghanistan commemorating the argali, or mountain sheep. Editorial credit: YANGCHAO /
A stamp printed in Afghanistan commemorating the argali, or mountain sheep. Editorial credit: YANGCHAO /

Afghanistan is a landlocked country located in Asia with a territory covering about 252,000 square miles. Most of its terrain is covered by the Hindu Kush mountain ranges which experience cold winters every year. The northern part of the country has fertile plains where agriculture is carried out while the southern parts are mainly made of deserts. The Afghan climate alternates between frigid winters and sweltering summers. Temperatures soar up to 49 degrees during summer months and then plummet down to -9 degrees during winter. Owing to its diverse climatic conditions, Afghanistan is home to some endangered species that include the following.

Threatened Mammals Of Afghanistan

Indian Leopard (Panthera pardus fusca)

The Indian leopard belongs to the big cat family and is found in central Asia where it roams between India and Afghanistan and other neighboring territories. A census was conducted in 2014 to determine the population of the animal. The results showed that they were in decline which prompted the classification of the leopard as endangered. The gestation period for the leopard lasts for about 105 days but has a very high mortality rate that stands at about 41-50% during the first year of a cub's life. The biggest threat to the leopard is humans who hunt it for its fur. Another threat to their survival is the loss of their habitat to rapid human encroachment.

Kashmir Musk Deer (Moschus cupreus)

Standing at 2 feet tall the Kashmir musk deer is an endangered species of musk deer that resides in parts of Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan. Males have tusks jutting out of their mouths which they use during mating to compete for females. Unregulated hunting, habitat degradation, and deforestation have combined to push the deer close to extinction. Poachers have been hunting the deer for its prized scent glands that fetch a hefty price on the black market.

Persian Onager (Equus hemionus onager)

Commonly known as the Persian wild ass, this animal is native to Iran and has spread to other parts of central Asia including parts of Afghanistan. The animal has however been listed as critically endangered with only 600 of them left in the wild. Humans are its most significant threat as they hunt it for the meat and hide. Competition for food with domestic livestock as well as drought have also contributed to the decline in its populations.

Argali (Ovis ammon)

Commonly called the mountain sheep, this animal is mainly found in the highlands of central Asia. Adults can grow up to 4 feet tall and weigh about 723 pounds. They prefer areas that are between 980-20,000 feet above the sea level where they forage for food on gentle slopes. Argali is an endangered species thanks to a loss of habitat to domestic animals and hunting by humans.

Blanford’s fox (Vulpes cana)

This tiny fox is commonly found in the Middle East and Central Asia where it makes its home in semiarid areas of Afghanistan, Iran, Turkestan, and Pakistan. The fox is characterized by hairless footpads, sharp claws that resemble those of a cat and a bushy tail. The fox is hunted for its fur which has contributed to its decline in the wild. Human encroachment is also another cause for concern.

Afghanistan's Conservation Efforts

Being home to many endangered animal species, Afghanistan has taken measures to ensure these animals are protected from hunting and other dangers. It has partnered with UNEP to assess the status of some of the animals and to come up with the right measures to ensure their populations are increased.

Threatened Mammals of Afghanistan

RankNameScientific NameConservation Status
1Zarudny's jirdMeriones zarudnyiEndangered
2Indian leopardPanthera pardus fuscaEndangered
3Snow leopard Panthera unciaEndangered
4Kashmir musk deer Moschus cupreusEndangered
5MarkhorCapra falconeriEndangered
6Turkmenian kulanEquus hemionus kulanEndangered - regionally extinct
7Persian onager Equus hemionus onagerEndangered - regionally extinct
8Geoffroy's bat Myotis emarginatusVulnerable
9Kashmir cave batMyotis longipesVulnerable
10Sind batEptesicus nasutusVulnerable
11Mehely's horseshoe bat Rhinolophus mehelyiVulnerable
12Blanford's foxVulpes canaVulnerable
13Asiatic black bearUrsus thibetanusVulnerable
14Goitered gazelleGazella subgutturosaVulnerable
15Wild goatCapra aegagrusVulnerable
16Argali Ovis ammonVulnerable
17MouflonOvis orientalisVulnerable
18Blasius's horseshoe bat Rhinolophus blasiiNear Threatened
19Pallas's catOtocolobus manul ferrugineaNear Threatened
20Turkestan lynx Lynx lynx isabellinusNear Threatened
21European otterLutra lutra Near Threatened

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