Getting to Know Afghanistan's Huge New National Park
Wakhan National Park—the country's second such sanctuary—protects mountains, snow leopards, and indigenous people.
Prince Mostapha Zaher, the director-general of Afghanistan's National Environmental Protection Agency, called it "one of the last truly wild places on the planet." Zaher said his grandfather, King Zaher Shah, had first dreamed of creating a national park in the area in the 1950s.
"We can prove that the cause of protecting the environment and wildlife can also be utilized as an instrument of peace and tolerance," said Zaher.
"The government of Afghanistan understands that it is absolutely essential for reconstruction to protect its natural resources," adds Peter Zahler, the deputy director of the Asia program for the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society, which worked with the Afghan government to establish the park.
The founding of the vast new park—which is 4,200