This cat's out of the bag—a camera trap recently captured a Persian leopard in Afghanistan's central highlands, where the big cat had been thought locally extinct.

The newly released photographs, taken in the fall, include this September shot of an adult leopard investigating the camera, "appearing to threaten it with canines exposed," according to the Wildlife Conservation Society, which helped set up the camera traps. The images are "indisputable proof" that the big cat is hanging on in the region, the group said.

The camera traps also captured dozens of pictures of other wildlife species, including lynx, wild cats, wolves, red foxes, and stone martens.

(Related: "Afghanistan Bright Spot: Wildlife Surviving in War Zones.")

"To see such a varied array of wildlife after we have endured so much conflict gives us hope for Afghanistan's future," Mostapha Zaher, director general of Afghanistan's National Environmental Protection Agency, said in a statement.

"Intact ecosystems represent a foundation for our country's reconstruction and development. This is also our heritage, our natural resources, our fauna and flora. It is incumbent upon all of us to conserve and protect our environment and hand it over to the next generation of the citizens of Afghanistan."

Photograph courtesy WCS Afghanistan Program

Photograph courtesy WCS Afghanistan Program
A red fox—a species common to North America—walks in front of a camera trap in Afghanistan in September.

Photograph courtesy WCS Afghanistan Program
A wildcat, a distant relative of the domestic cat, peers inquisitively into the camera in August.

Photograph courtesy WCS Afghanistan Program
A stone marten—a member of the weasel family—checks out a camera trap in September.

Photograph courtesy WCS Afghanistan Program

Poachers pursue an ibex, which triggered the camera trap not long before this photo was taken in October.

Illegal poaching is still a "very real threat," Peter Zahler, deputy director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Asia Program, said in a statement.

"We are thrilled by these images and the story of survival that they tell, but we were sobered by the fact that the cameras also took photographs of local people walking past with guns," Zahler said.

Responses to "Wild Animals Photographed in Afghanistan"

  1. Amazing photos...than you for sharing their journey documented. Peace, Mary Helen

  2. Anonymous says:

    They are very beautiful creatures. May the animals remain safe from man, who is so destructive.

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