Afghanistan’s Wildlife Crisis

Animals, plants, and their habitats need preservation and protection.

Hunting wild animals has a long history among the people of Afghanistan. The residents in remote areas usually do it for entertainment and fun. There is no legal mechanism defined for wildlife projection, providing the hunters with an opportunity to hunt animals without facing any legal consequences. The issue of wildlife hunting has never attracted the attention of animal welfare organizations, both inside Afghanistan and abroad. Afghanistan’s geography, 70% of which is mountainous and uncultivable, is home to hundreds of rare wildlife species. These include rare snow leopards with a worldwide population of just between 3,000 and 7,000, gray wolves, rare mountain deer, snakes, coyotes and so on. 

Animals have historically been human totems. Since ancient times, there have been significant ups and downs in terms of human relations with animals.

In Afghanistan, more than four decades of war and insecurity have wiped out some wildlife, putting some species on the brink of extinction. It is believed that in a country where human rights and dignity are violated vastly, there is no point to invest on protecting the wildlife and animals’ rights. This attitude arises from the selfish self-centeredness of humans, leading to the elimination of other living beings. “Human beings are the supreme creatures” and they deserve the most protection and attention, this is the very accepted argument that is being referenced to the content of the holy books. This inhuman approach toward wildlife protection has made them very vulnerable, particularly in the societies where religion leads the entire system and interferes in every matter.

This attitude is rooted in ignorance of the life cycle and the chain of life that binds all living things together in some way or another, and whenever links in this chain are broken, the whole cycle, including human life, is damaged.

This issue, however, has a moral dimension as well. If human beings do not learn to love animals and are not freed from the cruelty of the heart, they will lose the power of empathy with others. It does not matter if that is humankind or other living beings.  If we can understand that the phenomenon of life, as the origin of feeling and consciousness in nature, elevates all living beings to a common sphere in which pain, suffering, pleasure, joy and sorrow find meaning, as expert suggests, in this way we can understand the importance of reducing suffering, even for animals.

Compassion and kindness begin within an individual’s own self, and then society, comes to believe that “do not harass an ant which is just a sower/who has a soul and its life is sweet for itself.” If one realizes that each living being suffers to the best of its ability and understanding,/ then, our moral conscience will not allow us to endanger the lives of other living beings.

Moral conscience, however, will not go away on its own, unless this feeling is translated into precise rules and bills, and the existence of rules alone will not suffice as long as the these matters are not included in the educational system that life matters, no matter if that is human or animal. Variation in creatures beautifies the nature and environment, and wildlife is part of this nature to be protected and respected. The mass media and civic institutions have not played their role purposefully and effectively to spread awareness on creating a culture of kindness. This is the same tragedy we are witnessing in Afghanistan. No awareness of the importance of wildlife has been given to the people, no reckless hunting of animals has been stopped, no endangered species in the wildlife have been protected, and worse, the wildlife mafia has made Afghanistan a hotbed of lust. It has put birds and wild animals on the verge of extinction for fun and entertainment.

The environmental consequences of this catastrophe should be discussed separately, but it should be emphasized that sealing animals and humans at their core and protecting natural wildlife is one of the key steps in this direction.