(10) Afghanistan - Animal Kingdom. Afghan Mammals. Afghan Birds. Afghan Reptiles.
As regards vertebrate zoology, Afghanistan lies on the frontier of three regions viz., the Eurasian, the Ethiopian (to which region Biluchestan seems to belong), and the Indo-Malayan. Hence it naturally partakes somewhat of the forms of each, but is in the main Eurasian.
MAMMALS. Monkeys are stated by Mr. Bellew to exist in Yusufmi, and perhaps extend to some other districts north of the Kabul river; but no species has been named.
Felidoe. F. catus, F. chaus (both Eurasian); F. caracal (Eur., Ind., Ethiop.), about Kandahar; a small leopard, stated to be found almost all over the country, perhaps rather the cheeta (F. jubatus, Ind. And Eth.); f. pardus, the common leopard (Eth. And Ind.) The tiger is said to exist in the north-eastern hill country, which is quasi-Indian.
Canidoe. The jackal (C. aureus, Euras, Ind., Eth.) abounds on the Helmand and Argand-ab, and probably elsewhere. Wolves (C. Bengalensis) are formidable in the wilder tracts, and assemble in troops on the snow, destroying cattle, and sometimes attacking single horsemen. The hyaena (H. striata, Africa to India) is common. These do not hunt in packs, but will sometimes singly attack a bullock" they and the wolves make havoc among sheep. A favourite feat of the boldest of the young men of southern Afghanistan is toenter the hyaenas den, single-handed, muffle and tie nim. There are wild dogs, according to Elphinstone and Conolly. The small Indian fox (Vulpes Bengalensis) is found; also V. flavescens, common to India and Persia, the skin if which is much used as a fur.
Mustrelidoe. Species of Mungoose (Herpestes), species of otter, Mustela erminae, and two ferrets, one of them with tortoise-shell marks, tamed by the Afghans to keep down vermin; a marten (M. flavigula, Indian).
Bears are two: a black one, probably Ursus torquatus; and one of a dirty yewllow, U. Isabellinus, both Himalyan species.
Ruminants. Capra oegagrus and C. megaceros; a wild sheep (Ovis cycloceros or Vignei); Gazella subgutturosa these are often netted in batches when they descend to drink at a stream; G. dorcas, perhaps; Cervus Wallichii, the Indian barasingha, and probably some other Indian deer, in the north-eastern mountains.
The wild hog (Sus scrofa) is found on the Lower Helmand. The wild ass, Gorkhar of Persia (Equus onager), is frequent on the sandy tracts in the south-west. Neither elephant nor rhinoceros now exists within many hundred miles of Afghanistan; but there is ample evidence that the latter was hunted in the Peshawar plain down to the middle of the 16th century.
Talpidoe. A mole, probably T. Europoae; Sorex Indicus; Erinaceus collaris (Indian), and Er. Auritus (Eurasian).
Bats, believed to be Phyllorhinus cineraceus (Panjab species, Scotophilus Bellii (W. India), Vesp. Auritus and V. barbastellus, both found from England to India.
Rodentia. A squirrel (Sciurrus Syriacus?); Mus Indicus and M. Gerbellinus; a gerboe (Dipus telum?) ; Alactaga Nactriana; Gerbillus Indicus, and C. erythrinus (Persian and Indian); Lagomys Nepalensis, a central Asian species. A hare, probably L. ruficaudatus.
BIRDS. The largest list of Afghan birds that we know of is given by Captain Hutton in the J. As. Soc. Bengal, vol. xvi. P. 775, seqq.; but it is confessedly far from complete. Of 124 species in that list, 95 are pronounced to be Eurasian, 17 Indian, 10 both Eurasian and Indian, 1 (Turtur risorius( Eur., Ind., and Eth.,; and 1 only, carpodacus (Bucacetes) crassirostris, peculiar to the country. Afghanistan appears to be, during the breeding season, the retreat of a variety of Indian and some Africam (desert) forms, whilst in winter the avifauna becomes overwhelmingly Eurasian.
REPTILES. The following particulars are from Gray: - Lizards Pseudopus gracilis (Eur.), Argyrophis Horsfieldii, Salea Horsfieldii, Calotes Maria, C. versicolor, C. minor, C. Emma, Phrynocephalus Ticklelii- all Indian forms. A tortoise (T. Horsfieldii) appears to be peculiar to Kabul. There are apparently no salamanders or tailed Amphibia. The frogs are partly Eurasian, partly Indian. And the same may be said of the of fish; but they are as yet most imperfectly known.
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Afghanistan - Table of Contents