Afghan Arabia Wild
Afghanistan is a land of elevation and climate extremes, hence its wildlife runs to extremes as well. Snow leopards and possibly even tigers prowl the hidden crags of the Hindu Kush and hyenas (which I have seen) run about the southern desert regions. An amazing number of bats swirl about in the twilight hours - nearly forty different species to include a vampire bat! Macaque monkeys chatter in the forests of the east, jackals and wolves are found in remote dry regions, and the Indian Mongoose calls the southern regions home. The weasel family is well represented here to include the wolverine like ratel (although its present status is unknown). Otters are not hard to find and an intrepid explorer of the northern regions would probably run into brown bears and an Asiatic black bear. Gazelle, ibex, and the strangely horned marhor are just a portion of the hoofed wildlife population. Sadly, I have not been able to see most of the wonderful animals named above; the war makes travel more than a bit hazardous for the likes of me. For the paragraph above I have relied on a rare and valuable references titled "Mammals of Afghanistan" by Khushal Habbibi. I have managed to see and photograph a few species, however, which I offer below.
The Crested Porcupine is a surprisingly large animal. Fully grown adult approach three feet in length with quills the size and thickness of a number two pencil. The big fellow on the left managed to get himself fatally caught in a fence; the photo in the middle are zoo specimens. Very common, but seldom seen due to their nocturnal habits and secretive burrows, the spoor, tracks, and trails of these porcupines are easy to spot. The Cape Hare is a big lagomorph that has startled me on numerous occasions as it exploded from a burrow I passed too close to. They seem to live in community type habitats with several large holes grouped together.
Stepping down a bit on the size scale is the little Afghan Hedgehog. These busy little insectivores are another common nocturnal prowler that the average person does not encounter, but their tiny footprints are stamped all over the dusty sand every morning. On the far right is what I think is a photo of the larger Long Eared Hedgehog. I could not get this guy out of his hidey hole in order to verify his identity.
Often glimpsed, but seldom for long, is the Gerboa. These quick, wary, and cute rodents are about twelve inches in length. As you can see, most of that is tail. Their burrow holes are found just about everyplace there is sand in which to dig. On the right a gerboa kit tries to soak up a bit of morning sun warmth at the entrance to the burrow.
And speaking of rodents, they abound over here just as they do in all parts of the earth. It is a rare day when I do not uncover at least one of the little guys. The cute little gray fellow is a hamster; the other two pictures are of a common rodent called a jird.
Sheep, goats, donkeys, and camels are not exactly wildlife, of course, but they are a standard part of the landscape over here and their wild cousins roam the country.
That's all I have to offer in the way of Afghan mammals at present. But should this country ever experience the peace and stability these people deserve you can bet I'll be out there in wilds trying to capture these wonderful animals on film.