Wakhan nationwide Park—the country"s second such sanctuary—protects mountains, eye leopards, and indigenous people.
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Afghanistan announced the production of its second national park this week, a brand-new protected area that is 25 percent bigger than Yellowstone national Park in the U.S.
Wakhan nationwide Park incorporates soaring mountains, alpine grasslands, and unique wildlife in the northeastern component of Afghanistan, whereby it will maintain the timeless ways the life practiced by areas inside its borders.
Prince Mostapha Zaher, the director-general of Afghanistan"s National eco-friendly Protection Agency, referred to as it "one the the last truly wild places on the planet." Zaher said his grandfather, King Zaher Shah, had first dreamed of creating a nationwide park in the area in the 1950s.
"We can prove the the reason of protecting the environment and also wildlife can likewise be utilized as an tool of peace and also tolerance," claimed Zaher.
"The federal government of Afghanistan understands the it is absolutely vital for reconstruction to defend its herbal resources," to add Peter Zahler, the deputy director of the Asia program for the new York-based Wildlife conservation Society, which worked with the Afghan government to create the park.
The establishing of the vast new park—which is 4,200 square miles (about a million hectares)—builds ~ above the success Afghanistan has had with its an initial national park, Band-e Amir, which to be designated in 2009.
"The areas in Band-e Amir love it," says Zahler. "
"It is a very isolated, cold, high hill valley with peaks ~ above both sides," states Zahler, who has been functioning on preservation in Afghanistan because 2006.
The wildlife of Wakhan, he adds, is "astonishingly diverse." that is a ar where wolves, lynx, and also brown bear from the north mix through snow leopards, rock martens, and also the elusive Pallas"s cat. It is likewise home to ibex, red foxes, and Marco Polo sheep—the world"s biggest wild sheep, with horns the stretch virtually six feet (two meters) from tip to tip. (See "Pictures: "Lost" Leopard and also Poachers checked out in Afghanistan.")
"The photo of Afghanistan is that a dry, empty country," states Zahler, "but it has actually nine types of wild cats-as numerous as every one of sub-Saharan Africa
A Park that Protects People
Wakhan nationwide Park consists of the whole Wakhan District, residence to about 15,000 people, most of them ethnic Wakhi or Krygyz.
Thanks come an agreement with the Afghan government, the locals will be enabled to continue to be in the park. They will certainly co-manage it v the commonwealth government, and many will gain jobs together rangers, managers, and also other park personnel.
Local civilization will additionally be may be to save making a living off the land. The landscape is as well high in altitude for much farming, Zahler says, so most people in Wakhan endure by herding livestock—largely sheep and goats, in addition to some cattle, horses, and also domesticated yaks.
A precise management arrangement for the park still needs to be worked out, however Zahler claims the idea is come have different zones. Some zones will be wildlife reserves. Others will certainly be set aside for multiple uses, including grazing.
The an ar has not challenged many dangers from logging due to the fact that it is primarily over the treeline, or native mining because it is for this reason remote, says Zahler. But it has suffered from poaching and also overgrazing.
Zahler states enforcement in ~ the new park need to help, as have to ongoing collaborative initiatives with the local communities.
The services of Tourism?
Each year about 100 come 300 international tourists visit the Wakhan corridor, Zahler says. "It"s no a lot, however this is among the many impoverished regions in Afghanistan, which is just one of the more impoverished nations on the planet. That is an area the is desperate for help, and even a couple of tourists do a big difference." (See "Afghan Ski an obstacle Promotes travel to War-Weary Hindu Kush.")
Accessibility is component of the problem. Obtaining to Wakhan takes part effort: one overland pilgrimage from Kabul bring away a week. Though a new airstrip was newly added, numerous tourists still go into the area v Tajikistan, which has actually fewer defense concerns.
In 2008, National geographic Adventure magazine named Wakhan one of its "25 Best brand-new Trips in the World." Zahler states he hopes the new national park will spark an ext visits as roads and trails are included and word it s okay out.
The Wakhan corridor, the adds, is "extremely safe—as safe as any high-mountain area deserve to be." The region has not seen current violence, the Taliban "have no interest in it," and also the world "are really welcoming."
Still, that says, the success might hinge on the country"s all at once stability and also security.
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In the meantime, Zahler says his organization has actually proposed a considerable list of brand-new parks for Afghanistan. The government is receptive to the idea, that says, and also hopes to designate much more over time.
When it pertains to understanding the value of parks, claims Zahler, "Afghanistan really gets it."