To access the remote and inhospitable habitat of the snow leopard (pictured above in a camera-trap picture on May 26, 2009), conservationists and local wildlife rangers had to travel by horseback--or "yakback"--for a week through snow and ice.
Because the Wakhan Corridor sits above snow line--at altitudes of over 14,000 feet (4,267 meters)--this "strange pencil of land" is out of range of ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, Zahler said.
Some locals have become advocates for wildlife, Zahler said, setting aside areas for animals and developing laws limiting where livestock can be grazed.
With funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Wildlife Conservation Society is trying to establish the Wakhan Corridor as a protected area.
Photograph courtesy Wildlife Conservation Society