WCS Wildlife Trade
A Programmatic Website
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Species of Interest for the Military and Wildlife Trade

Iraq and Afghanistan are located where the Indomalayan, Paleoarctic, and Afrotropic biotic realms intersect.  The diversity of habitats, from extensive marshlands and desert to mountainous terrain, including the eastern-most extension of the Himalayan mountains, is mirrored by the diversity of flora and fauna.  Iraq is reported to have 81 species of mammals, 140 breeding birds, 99 reptiles, 11 amphibians, and 170 fish.  Afghanistan contains 119 species of mammals, 181 breeding birds, 109 reptiles, 7 amphibians, and 115 fish.

Both countries face threats to their diversity including loss of habitat and wildlife trade.  In Afghanistan alone, more than 100 species of birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals are listed under CITES, including ten species of cat such as the Snow leopard (Panthera uncia), Persian leopard (Panthera pardus), and Asiatic cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), which, while locally extinct, might still enter trade from the only remaining population in neighboring Iran. The unsettled political climate in these countries during the past three decades has made adequate field surveys of wildlife impossible.  As a result, little is known about the status of many species, especially in Iraq.  Trade in any products made from wildlife in Iraq and Afghanistan could be detrimental to local and regional wildlife populations.

Afghanistan is a member of CITES and has enacted several laws to protect species.  Iraq is not a member of CITES and as of now has no protections for the country’s wildlife. WCS and Nature Iraq are working in Afghanistan and Iraq, respectively, to strengthen existing or write new legislation, design protected areas to maintain critical habitats, and begin to find out more about the wildlife in these countries.  The species listed below represent a sample of the types of interesting animals found in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  1. Asiatic Black Bear
  2. Goitered Gazelle
  3. Grey Wolf
  4. Persian Leopard
  5. Saker Falcon
  6. Snow Leopard


Heidi Kretser, Ph.D.
Wildlife Conservation Society 7 Brandy Brook Ave Saranac Lake, NY 12983 USA
518 891-8872 ext 105