Afghan Arabia Wild
by John M. Regan
Updated Tuesday 8 AUGUST 2017
Wounded Warrior Project
Devoted to the Wildlife of Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia
WILDLIFE OF AFGHANISTAN WILDLIFE OF SAUDI ARABIA EDITOR BIO
Welcome to Afghan Arabia Wild. This website is dedicated to the wildlife of Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. The politics and war of these countries are well known, but forget about that for a while and focus on something far more fascinating - their natural history and wildlife. The Saudi desert teems with reptiles, birds, and a wonderfully unexpected array of mammals from fox to baboons, and spectacular display of fossils. Despite decades of war vast areas of Afghanistan remain wild and open. Camel spiders are familiar inhabitants of the country but so are bears, monkeys, and hyenas. So come on in. Immerse yourself in the unique wildlife of two very intriguing countries that have a lot more to offer than a daily headline of bad news.
The Fascinating Cone Head Mantis
A special thanks to Harry H. who generously supplied these excellent photos of a Cone Head mantis he found in Chora Valley in Uruzghan province, Afghanistan.
The insect known as the Praying Mantis is a creature that intrigues everyone. The peculiar triangular head that swivels about with as it hunts for prey gives this animal an aura of intelligent concentration not seen in other insects. Then there is the distinctive elongated body highlighted by long grasping forelegs that spell instant death to many invertebrates. That, in fact, is one of the mantis’s primary charms – it is our ally in the fight against the many pests that would destroy our fine gardens. North America is home to 11 species of mantids out of the 1800 or so that inhabit the earth.
Most people are familiar with this familiar insect predator but there is one member of the species with an especially striking appearance. Very few folks in North America have seen the little mantis, Empusa pennata, the Cone Head Mantis. The majority of resources claim that this mantis is a native of southern Europe from Spain to Italy. Myself and others, however, have discovered the Cone Head Mantis alive and well throughout Afghanistan. Thanks to its diminutive size and striking “alien” shaped head I had a hard time believing what I was seeing when I first encountered one in the countryside outside of Kabul. For more on this amazing animal go here: Afghan Invertebrates.
Some day I pray that this gorgeous country will be at peace and the whole world can see its beauty: AFGHANISTAN'S BEAUTIFUL GREEN ZONE!
Chimpanzees and gorillas get most of the attention but baboons are just as intriguing in behavior and intelligence as are the other great apes. They are, of course, associated with African wildlife and that is where all five species of baboons call home. Saudi Arabia, however, is not normally associated with primates at all. But a large number of Hamadryas baboons, Papio hamadryas, make this desert peninsula their home. A large troop of them have even become a tourist attraction. I once spent a pleasant afternoon with these animals. For pictures and more on that follow this link: Saudi Baboons.
Older male Hamadryas are distinguishable thanks to a large lion like mane around their neck. Young are brown with fur that turns grayish to silvery as they mature. These primates with eat just about anything, an extremely important adaptation for a relatively large mammal living in the desert. But how did they get to Saudi Arabia to begin with? An exact answer for that is questionable; some sources actually suggest human assistance. They certainly received no such assistance in Egypt where they once flourished but are now extinct. A likely scenario is that the animals simply migrated up from Africa. Considering the barren landscape along they’d have to overcome such a trek is remarkable. However these fascinating animals managed to do it you can still see them in the southern regions of Saudi Arabia and Yemen as well as northeast Africa.
WILDLIFE OF SAUDI ARABIA