Plant life in Afghanistan is sparse but diverse. Common trees in the mountains are evergreens, oaks, poplars, wild hazelnuts, almonds, and pistachios. The plains of the north are largely dry, treeless steppes and those of the southwestern corner are nearly uninhabitable deserts.
Common plants in the arid regions include camel thorn, locoweed, spiny restharrow, mimosa, and wormwood, a variety of sagebrush. The wild animals of Afghanistan include more than 100 mammal species, some of which are nearing extinction.
The most seriously endangered are the goitered gazelle, leopard, snow leopard, markor goat, and Bactrian deer. Other wild animals of Afghanistan include Marco Polo sheep, urials, ibex, bears, wolves, foxes, hyenas, jackals, and mongooses. Wild boar, hedgehogs, shrews, hares, mouse hares, bats, and various rodents also occur.
More than 380 bird species are found in Afghanistan, with more than 200 breeding there. Flamingo and other aquatic fowl breed in the lake areas south and east of Ghazni. Ducks and partridges are also common, but all birds are hunted widely and many are becoming uncommon, including the endangered Siberian crane.
With very little government infrastructure to discourage hunting, and habitat disappearing because of conflict and drought, much of the country’s wildlife is at risk. In 2006, Afghanistan and the Wildlife Conservation Society began a three-year project to protect wildlife and habitats along the Wakhan Corridor and Central Plateau regions.
- Snow leopard (Uncia uncia)
- Wild goat (Capra aegagrus)
- Markhor (Capra falconeri)
- Marco Polo sheep (Ovis ammon polii)
- Urial (Ovis orientalis)
- Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus)
- Siberian crane (Grus leucogeranus)
Critically endangered species
- White-headed duck (Oxyura leucocephala)
- Marbled teal (Marmaronetta angustirostris)
- Pallas’s sea eagle (Haliaeetus leucoryphus)
- Greater spotted eagle (Aquilla clanga)
- Imperial eagle (Aquilla heliaca)
- Lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni)
- Corncrake (Crex crex)
- Sociable lapwing (Vanellus gregaria)
- Pale-backed pigeon (Columba hodgsonii)
- Little is known about the status of the salamander Batrachuperus mustersi, which is found only in the Hindu Kush.