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article imageOne of worlds' rarest birds breeding site found - in Afghanistan

By Stephanie Dearing     Feb 28, 2010 in World
If any of the other reasons to end war don't apply, maybe this one might: protect the breeding site of one of the world's rarest birds.
This elusive bird, the Large-billed Reed Warbler, has only been seen a handful of times over a period stretching more than 100 years. It was originally identified in India in 1867, but was not seen again for 100 years. The species was discovered in the Pamir Mountains of Afghanistan in 2008, and a study by ornithologists found at least 20 birds. By trapping and releasing those birds, the scientists were able to locate the breeding area. The location was confirmed last year after DNA tests showed the birds were breeding. Mike Evans, from BirdLife said "This is great news from a little-known species from a remote part of the world and suggests that there may be more discoveries to be made here."
In response to the finding, the Afghanistan government placed the bird on its new list of protected species. Mustafa Zahir, the Director of the Afghanistan National Environment Protection Agency said "It is not true that our country is full of only bad stories. This bird, after so many years, has been discovered here. Everyone thought it was extinct." The agency has accorded 33 other species with protection, including the Snow Leopard and the Cheetah. In 2009, the newly created environmental agency also set aside land for Afghanistan's first national park, Band-e-Amir. This year, Afghanistan added fourteen other species to its protected list.
Afghans, who are struggling to generate income to survive during the protracted civil conflict, have been selling furs taken from endangered mammals to non-Afghan soldiers.
The rugged areas where Afghanistan's endangered species live have also been areas where insurgents have hidden. Also known as "the roof of the world," the Pamir Mountains have been described as "the world's best kept secret." The Pamir region was protected by the Afghanistan government prior to the outbreak of war in 1979.
More about Large-billed reed warbler, Afghanistan, Rare birds, Mustafa zahir, Pamir mountains
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