Afghan children learn to care for wildlife

Afghan children learn to care for wildlife - Central Asia News Afghanistan Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan Uzbekistan Tajikistan Turkmenistan-Sports Business and Entertainment

Lily J. Lawrence

2008-10-31

KABUL, Afghanistan, October 29 — Afghanistan’s children are learning to care for the nation’s wildlife through a special new department at the Kabul Zoo. Officials inaugurated the new facility at the zoo last week.

“We will invite children from schools and kindergartens to this department and teach them how to take care of these animals in order to save their lives,” said Aziz Gul Saqib, director of the Kabul Zoo.

The department was launched with financial support from the cultural section of the U.S. embassy in Kabul. It will provide basic information to Afghan children about wild animals and how to treat them.

Afghan officials say wild animals in the country are endangered, and that populations of native species are decreasing day by day. Years of war, illegal hunting and smuggling are all contributing to their demise.

The Wildlife Conservation Society began a survey last year in Badakhshan province that revealed troubling evidence that snow leopards are still being hunted illegally there.

Last year, a Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) survey revealed that at least 25 kinds of wild birds and animals are endangered and could disappear entirely within the next few years.

Ahmad Shikib, aged 10, from Rana Private School, came to the zoo with his classmates to learn about the animals. ''My parents have told me a lot about wildlife, but what they teach us here is something different,'' he said.

The children see the animals and read about them on signboards hung on the cages, he said. “And then I learn how to treat them.”

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