Afghanistan snow leopards tagged, followed

July 17, 2012 at 3:27 PM
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WAKHAN CORRIDOR, Afghanistan, July 17 (UPI) -- Conservationists say two snow leopards were captured, fitted with satellite collars and released in the first such effort in Afghanistan.

Researchers with the Wildlife Conservation Society and Afghan veterinarians successfully captured, tagged and released the male snow leopards on May 27 and June 8 respectively, the society said in a release Tuesday.

After each cat was weighed, measured, fitted with a satellite collar and had DNA samples taken, they were released and headed up into the Hindu Kush Mountains, conservationists said.

The first snow leopard captured, dubbed Pahlawan, has traveled more than 75 miles since being release, while the second cat, Khani Wakhai, has traveled more than 90 miles, satellite tracking revealed.

Found in 12 nation in Asia from Russia to Nepal, an adult snow leopard stands about 2 feet tall at the shoulder, and weighs between 60 and 120 pounds, with large paws ideally adapted to both rocky terrain and deep snow drifts.

"These captures are sensational," David Lawson, the society's Afghanistan country director, said.

"They are also a real tribute to the knowledge of the local community rangers and the success of our recent camera trapping efforts, which enabled the team to select spots that were known to be frequented by snow leopards."

Snow leopards have been categorized as an endangered species since 1972.

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