The Snow Leopard Project: And Other Adventures in Warzone Conservation (Hardcover)
The remarkable story of the heroic effort to save and preserve Afghanistan's wildlife-and a culture that derives immense pride and a sense of national identity from its natural landscape.
Postwar Afghanistan is fragile, volatile, and perilous. It is also a place of extraordinary beauty. Evolutionary biologist Alex Dehgan arrived in the country in 2006 to build the Wildlife Conservation Society's Afghanistan Program, and preserve and protect Afghanistan's unique and extraordinary environment, which had been decimated after decades of war.
Conservation, it turned out, provided a common bond between Alex's team and the people of Afghanistan. His international team worked unarmed in some of the most dangerous places in the country-places so remote that winding roads would abruptly disappear, and travel was on foot, yak, or mule. In The Snow Leopard Project, Dehgan takes readers along with him on his adventure as his team helps create the country's first national park, completes the some of the first extensive wildlife surveys in thirty years, and works to stop the poaching of the country's iconic endangered animals, including the elusive snow leopard. In doing so, they help restore a part of Afghan identity that is ineffably tied to the land itself.
About the Author
Alex Dehgan is the founder and CEO of Conservation X Labs, which is focused on transforming the field of conservation through technological and financial innovation. Previously, he was USAID's first chief scientist in twenty years, and ensured that USAID became the global leader on employing science, technology, and creativity to help solve development challenges.
Prior to his tenure at USAID, he worked at the Department of State on science diplomacy under Ambassador Dennis Ross, and later under Ambassador Holbrooke and the Office of the Special Representative to the President for Afghanistan and Pakistan. He was the William Rainey Harper Fellow for the Biological Sciences Division at the University of Chicago, and was granted a Searle Fellowship and a National Science Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship among twenty-one other awards, fellowships, and grants he has received during the tenure of his career. He currently teaches at Duke University. He has worked and traveled in almost ninety countries across five continents.
Captivating....With clarity and a bit of awe, Dehgan describes Afghanistan's geological past and its 'dramatic and largely unappreciated biodiversity'....He leaves readers with an optimistic message that, in any sphere of life, effective collaboration toward common goals can benefit everyone.—Publishers Weekly
The Snow Leopard Project is a richly detailed chronicle of Alex Dehgan's often-harrowing journey through Afghanistan to help save stunningly beautiful parts of a war-torn land. Dehgan is a brave and intrepid traveler, and he takes readers into his adventures with unique wildlife in one of the planet's most remote landscapes. His improbable journey, rendered with grace and insight, is a must-read for anyone who craves adventure and is curious about the world beyond our borders.—Rajiv Chandrasekaran, author of Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan
Saving snow leopards and opening a national park in a warzone sounds crazy, but that's just what Alex Dehgan set out to do in Afghanistan. This is a remarkable story of courage, humor, and tenacity---and making peace where the politicians have failed. Dehgan brought people together through an unexpected common purpose-protecting one of the world's most exquisite endangered animals.—Christina Lamb, O.B.E., chief foreign correspondent, The Sunday Times, co-author of I Am Malala and The Sewing Circle of Herat
In The Snow Leopard Project, Alex Dehgan shows us that the biological Silk Road-with its Marco Polo sheep, show leopards, and ibex-is as unique and diverse as the cultural Silk Road. He takes us into the heart of war-torn Afghanistan on a mission to survery the biodiversity, to set aside national parks, and to investigate the illegal wildlife trade. This book engages the reader from the very beginning, with a gripping, fast-paced set of adventure stories and a moral imperative. It should be required reading for anyone interested in conservation.—Patricia Wright, conservationist and founder of the Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments, Stonybrook University, MacArthur Genius Award-winner
An eye-opening account of what it takes to protect wildlife under improbable conditions. Dehgan's zeal for conservation, passion for humanitarian outreach, and admiration for the Afghan people spring from every page.—Booklist
[An] intriguing, detailed, frequently unnerving account... The author vividly describes the rugged lands he and his crew encountered... Dehgan's lessons provide a sort of textbook on the frustrations and complexities of working on conservation in a place where science runs into the snarls of politics and diplomacy-and often loses—Kirkus Reviews
"Less a book about research than about the trials, triumphs and occasional absurdity of building a conservation programme in extreme circumstances."—Nature
"The Snow Leopard Project illuminates a vital area of science - and a country filled with natural and cultural beauty. I was captivated by Dehgan's writing, chapter by chapter."—NationalPublic Radio
stunning true story about efforts to protect these endangered cats and other
rare species while also helping to defend the human culture around them-and
strengthening the bond between people and nature in the process."—TheRevelator
"This compelling look at conservation efforts in a war-torn country is a must-read for anyone interested in attempts to stem the loss of biodiversity."