Endangered snow leopards have been spotted in one of the more peaceful areas of Afghanistan.
The World Conservation Society said the usually solitary animals have been tracked across the Wakhan Corridor, in the northeast of the country where militant activity is low.
Listed as globally threatened, only some 4,500 to 7,500 snow leopards exist, scattered across a dozen nations in the high mountain ranges of Central Asia.
The cats are poached for their pelts and killed by shepherds guarding their flocks from the potential predators.
"This is a wonderful discovery. It shows that there is real hope for snow leopards in Afghanistan. Now our goal is to ensure that these magnificent animals have a secure future as part of Afghanistan's natural heritage," Peter Zahler, the World Conservation Society's deputy Asia director, said in a statement.
The World Conservation Society has been working in the Wakhan Corridor since 2006 to preserve wildlife like the Marco Polo sheep and the ibex.
In tandem with the U.S. government's aid arm, USAID, the World Conservation Society says it works with all schools in Wakham to teach conservation. It says it has also trained 59 rangers to monitor wildlife. The New York-based group has also started a scheme to compensate shepherds for livestock lost to predators.
compiled from agency reports