The Snow Leopard Project

And Other Adventures in Warzone Conservation


By Alex Dehgan

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The remarkable story of the heroic effort to save and preserve Afghanistan’s wildlife-and a culture that derives immense pride and a sense of national identity from its natural landscape.

Postwar Afghanistan is fragile, volatile, and perilous. It is also a place of extraordinary beauty. Evolutionary biologist Alex Dehgan arrived in the country in 2006 to build the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Afghanistan Program, and preserve and protect Afghanistan’s unique and extraordinary environment, which had been decimated after decades of war.

Conservation, it turned out, provided a common bond between Alex’s team and the people of Afghanistan. His international team worked unarmed in some of the most dangerous places in the country-places so remote that winding roads would abruptly disappear, and travel was on foot, yak, or mule. In The Snow Leopard Project, Dehgan takes readers along with him on his adventure as his team helps create the country’s first national park, completes the some of the first extensive wildlife surveys in thirty years, and works to stop the poaching of the country’s iconic endangered animals, including the elusive snow leopard. In doing so, they help restore a part of Afghan identity that is ineffably tied to the land itself.





A cool mist hung low over the dense reeds as I peered through my scope. Kol-e-Hashmat Khan, a wetland area on the outskirts of Kabul, was once the hunting grounds of Mohammed Zahir Shah, the last king of Afghanistan. Converted in the 1930s by the king into a waterfowl reserve, its name translates as the “lake of the dignified leader.” Prior to the Russian invasion in 1979, over 150 species of migratory birds were recorded at the wetland, and it had supported as many as 35,000 waterfowl. Kol-e-Hashmat Khan had long represented an important stopover for one of the planet’s great bird migrations between Africa, South Asia, and Eurasia. It was an oasis for birds in the middle of traveling across a vast dry region, and it was also an oasis in the middle of Kabul. But the sprawling capital, particularly after the abdication of the king, suffering through three decades of war, and with the flood of refugees returning to Afghanistan and moving to Kabul, was quickly encroaching.

Today, areas on the edge of the lake are thickly settled—lumberyards, car repair shops, butchers, and houses have crept right up to the water. The small wetland, just 200 hectares (494 acres), lies just south of Kabul, and coming across it is a jarring transition from the dusty, clogged traffic of Logar Road to the serene wetland populated with hundreds of birds just behind a metal gate. A simple, crumbling concrete observation tower stands at the edge of the lake, and King Zahir Shah’s steel rowboat, which he used for hunting waterfowl, is still tied up to the shore.

I came to Kol-e-Hashmat Khan in 2006 to start building the Afghanistan Biodiversity Conservation Program with the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York (better known as the Bronx Zoo). I was at the wetlands on that day as part of an effort to monitor the number and diversity of waterfowl, and I wasn’t expecting any company other than the birds. But as I peered through the spotting scope, the crunching of footsteps on the reeds broke the silence of the marsh. A young Afghan man in the traditional loose-fitting clothing of the Pashtuns, a shalwar kameez and a turban, approached me from behind. I was immediately uneasy. We were far out in the park. I was armed only with my scope, binoculars, and field notebooks. Usually, I did this kind of work with a partner, but today, I was alone. We were shorthanded, so my driver had to help our other projects, and my Afghan ornithologist, Naqib, was away on expedition. I looked up from the scope and turned to greet the young man.

Sobh-be kheir.” (Good morning.)

His only response was a dark glare. We stared at each other for a long while before he asked—first in Pashto, which I didn’t understand or speak, and then Dari—“What are you doing?”

I explained to him I was counting birds, part of my work of understanding what happened to Afghan wildlife.

“I am a Talib,” he announced. Talib as in a member of the Taliban. He sat back and watched for my reaction.

I looked at him for a moment, shrugged, and turned back to my scope.

He stood silently behind me, and I did my best to ignore him. I nervously counted ferruginous pochards, Jacanas, tufted ducks, shovelers, and multitudes of coots floating between the reeds, unsure of what he would do. After a few minutes conducting my awkward survey, I gestured for him to come over and look through the scope.

He looked at me first warily and then, his curiosity getting the better of him, approached and peered through the eyepiece as I showed him how to adjust it. After a few minutes, he turned his head to me and smiled and then peered into the scope again. Before long, I was showing him how to type birds and their names. As we scanned the reeds, I felt the surreality of the moment sink in. How had I found myself bird-watching with the Taliban?

THIS BOOK CHRONICLES the long, strange path that led me, and other conservationists, into some of the world’s most dangerous places, all in the service of conservation. In particular, it lays out the story of conservation in postwar Afghanistan, a country that had become nearly a blank slate for conservation. There was a chance, after nearly thirty years of conflict, to start over, to create new and unique protected areas, and the laws, policies, and institutions that protected them, from scratch. This was a country where exploration was still possible and where the unknown had not been exhausted but in fact was refilled.

If we were successful, these would be the first national parks in Afghanistan’s history. Afghanistan had come close in 1979 in creating the parks, but that effort was interrupted by the Russian invasion. The country had to wait nearly three decades to try again. But this time, we were starting from scratch—the ecosystems and their flora and fauna had been devastated by the war, and we didn’t know what we would find and whether what was left was even worth saving. And there was a bigger question: When the country faced so many other challenges, why should we care about a few snow leopards and big mountain sheep?

We would be founding a start-up in the middle of a post-conflict war zone, and we had a singular window, before Afghanistan imploded again, to take advantage of the relative peace and safety, to accomplish our goals for the country. However, this meant that we would need to build everything from the ground up and get ourselves out into the field in thirty days. The project, funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), was under tremendous pressure to show results, and as a result, almost immediately we would have international staff coming into Kabul and starting on our initial surveys. This required a fast start-up. We would need to learn how to deal with the complexities of Afghan society and government bureaucracy, navigate remote terrains, and create the infrastructure, security, and logistics behind the entire project.

We had an extraordinary plan—a set of comprehensive surveys of three major regions in Afghanistan for their fauna and flora; assessment of the underlying threats driving their species extinct and the creation of solutions to address those threats; the constitution of the governance structures at the village, regional, provincial, and national levels to enforce the rule of law; the development of programs to build community support and ensure they benefited from future protected areas; the formation of the support infrastructure for those protected areas; and finally, the establishment of the areas themselves and the bringing together of other governments to partner with Afghanistan in the transboundary management of these remarkable and unique places. This plan would take decades with other countries, but we only had three years of funding from USAID and an unknown window of safety in which to operate. And the project was already six months behind schedule.

The unknowns would be the hardest part of the project—not knowing the status of the wildlife, the safety of the roads, or whether we would have the support of the people and the governments. However, while Afghanistan operationally was a difficult place to work, it was also an extraordinary place to be. First, the Afghan people are among the loveliest you could hope to meet. For people who have suffered so much, they are cheerful and hospitable, and this was even true of many of its government officials with whom we dealt. Second, Afghanistan attracts an inherently interesting set of people from outside its borders. The journalists, humanitarians, and development officers that Afghanistan attracted in the early years after the US conflict were among the most extraordinary, warmhearted, and intellectually rich people you could meet.

Finally, perhaps because we were in Afghanistan to do science, as conservation diplomats, we did not have to deal with the kind of corruption or bureaucracy most other programs did. The majority of Afghans were remarkably enthusiastic about our work and supported us in doing it. This may have been because, as an Iranian American, I may have been less of an outsider to their society, more familiar to them than the other foreigners that flooded into their country. But I think there was another reason—for people who had spent much of the previous three decades as refugees in other countries, protecting the unique and charismatic wildlife of the country was a way to help restore their identity. The protection and renewal of wild Afghanistan, of its flora and fauna, represented a restoration of the country’s own ferocity and identity. This was an essential component of postwar reconstruction. Although Afghanistan’s national character always tended toward generosity, friendliness, and warmth, our work in conservation seemed to generate even greater kindness and support.

HOW I GOT to Afghanistan is a long and unlikely story. It took me through studying extinction among endangered lemurs in the dwindling eastern forests of Madagascar, to science diplomacy work for the State Department focused on the Middle East, including a foray into Iraq, before being invited to help establish the Wildlife Conservation Society’s first national park in Afghanistan. My career might sound a bit haphazard, but it prepared me perfectly for the role that I played in Afghanistan. Law, lemurs, and diplomacy comprised a curriculum not found inside any graduate school. A sense of adventure and a dose of serendipity kept sending me down different paths, and they ultimately led me to that wetland outside Kabul.

I started out as a lawyer, although not the typical kind. In the summer after my first year in law school, I flew to the collapsing Soviet Union with several hundred dollars and a credit card that didn’t seem to work anywhere in the country except for a telephone booth in a floating brothel on the banks of the Moscow River, from which I called my family once a week. I had gotten an opportunity to work with the Russian government on improving their environmental laws after the collapse of the Soviet Union. My position was to help rewrite environmental law and support the Ministry of Environment for the newly created Russian Federation as well as help build the country’s civil society. The economic and political impact of the war in Afghanistan, coupled with the suffocating administrative edifice of the former Soviet Union, caused the Communist Party and government to collapse abruptly under their own weight. I jumped at the chance to go to Russia, oblivious to what awaited.

Russian society had fallen into disarray with the collapse of Communism. The Soviet Union was a seventy-year social experiment on an unprecedented scale—a test of whether the drivers of human nature could change—and that experiment had finally failed. The rules for living in Russia, never obvious or simple even under the Soviets, were now changing almost daily. Currency could be rendered worthless by government decree overnight, and inflation ran rampant. Accomplishing anything from buying a train ticket to making a phone call required ingenuity and adaptability. Everything I thought I would be doing in Russia was different from my actual work. Although I had been sent to rewrite environmental laws, ensuring that the laws were enforced was the more needed task. However, the lessons outside my work would be the most valuable to my experiences later. The salary was meager—it included my housing, which I shared first with a hedgehog in the Moscow Zoo, and then a dog at a Soviet block apartment outside of town, plus $300 for the summer—so I had to live as a Russian did and adapt to the society that was in the middle of 30 percent inflation a month and in which even the constitution seemed to change daily. My experience there was like white-water rafting in the dark. Russia was my first training ground for surviving in a foreign land in the midst of chaos. This knowledge proved invaluable more than once on the road to Kabul.

After two summers in Russia, I finished law school and clerked for a federal court in Manhattan. As much as I enjoyed returning to a place where the rule of law maintained the fabric of society, I missed science. Law seemed to be a further refinement of previous interpretations and distinctions, while science provided me a chance to be curious, ask big questions, and seek out their answers in the larger universe. It would be a lecture series on extinction that I had attended at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in celebration of its one hundredth anniversary that would lure me back to science and adventure.

So I gave up my career in law to begin a doctoral program in evolutionary biology at the University of Chicago. I wanted to answer a critical scientific question: Why, during periods of extreme environmental change, do certain species survive while others go extinct? I sought the answer in the lemur populations in Madagascar. The country had suffered from deforestation and fragmentation of its forests. We asked similar questions years later in Afghanistan. In Madagascar, we were looking at the aftermath of man’s war on the environment as part of his survival. In Afghanistan, it was man’s war with himself. Both had impacts on the biodiversity of the countries.

I formed a hypothesis in Madagascar that species’ adaptability to environmental change, and thus their survival, was directly related to their ability to alter their behavior, and that by quantifying this ability, we could predict the likelihood of species’ demise. I proposed that extinction is not a random process, but that species disappear in a predictable order. We could predict species’ susceptibility to extinction by measuring their “behavior plasticity,” or, in other words, the evolutionary moderated capability of a species to behave differently. In Madagascar, I found two species with different outcomes in response to fragmentation; one species, which was less limited by diet and skeletal structure, was able to cross vast areas of rice paddies to ensure it got sufficient food, while the other was constrained by its evolutionary adaptation to arboreal living and was ultimately trapped on the tiny island of forest.

Before Madagascar, I had never handled the logistics of a large-scale field operation, nor did I have much experience in building and training teams. Our expedition required more than twenty field assistants and researchers, fifty porters, and a shipping container load of scientific equipment and supplies. We had to get every ounce of gear to Madagascar, hardly a travel hub. In the field, we were sometimes a one- to two-day walk from the nearest road, a twelve-hour drive from the capital, with no cellular signal, satellite phones, running water, or electricity. We participated in countless ceremonies for the ancestors and meetings with local kings and elected officials to get nearby villages to buy in. We built and trained our field teams from scratch, working with Malagasy villagers from the forest (the Tanala people) who had little more than grade-school educations. Once the team was assembled, we needed to get to the field sites that I had spotted and measured via satellite imagery and determine whether lemurs still existed in them—and whether their distribution was random or followed our model’s predictions.

Nearly every scientific method we used had to be adapted or created de novo. To answer the complex questions we were asking about the behavior of extinction, we needed intensive studies of the soils, trees, aerial and terrestrial predators, and landscape characteristics. Most of all, we needed round-the-clock demographic surveys of the twelve species of the lemurs (half of which were nocturnal) that inhabited the rain forest. Once we had all that together, we could perform behavioral and physiological studies of three of those species. This included the methodologies for surveying lemurs in fragments rather than intact forests, coming up with novel ways to survey predators, finding and darting a lot of lemurs, putting together field teams, and keeping those teams alive in the rain forest.

Moreover, during the two-and-a-half-year expedition, I nearly died from cerebral malaria, contracted regular malaria multiple times, fended off leeches and enormous poisonous spiders, contracted schistosomiasis and dysentery, lost a motorcycle in quicksand, walked seventy kilometers to find an off-road vehicle to save the life of one of my research guides who had been bitten by a poisonous spider, managed an international group of field assistants, some who slowly went crazy from their anti-malarial meds, dived with oceanic sharks, outwitted corrupt officials, and uncovered Madagascar’s deep environmental history of previous cycles of deforestation buried in its soil. We confronted constant breakdowns of our Land Cruisers and trucks, liquefying roads, roads that were more potholes than tarmac, and structurally unsound bridges. We were battered by violent cyclones during the rainy season. The powerful storms left rivers clogged with red silt and occasional dead lemurs, washed away roads and bridges, and swallowed vehicles whole. My time in Madagascar taught me a set of entrepreneurial and logistics skills that were incredibly valuable in my later endeavors. In the end, like all my adventures, I had a love-hate relationship with the island. It had been a place of considerable challenge to me physically and emotionally, but looking back, it defined my core identity and who I became.

Within a few days of my return to Chicago from almost two and a half years of living in the Madagascar rain forests, still in culture shock from the transition, al-Qaeda attacked New York and Washington. Along with the rest of the country, the attacks of 9/11 stunned me into numbness. I watched the tragedies unfold for hour after hour, not moving from a simple wooden village chair that I had brought from Madagascar. It became clear that the country I had returned to was very different from the one I had left. The mood was dark, isolationist, nationalistic, and foreboding.

I turned down a position at the Yale School of Forestry in favor of joining the State Department, hopeful that I could leverage my power as a scientist to help steer the direction of the country. I was concerned that the country was becoming more fearful, less optimistic, and less welcoming, and that this would play out in our foreign policy. I wanted to provide another voice in our engagement with the Islamic world. I decided to leave the relative comfort of tropical biology—not the serenest room in the ivory tower, but still academia—for the deserts of Iraq and the perilous landscape of foreign policy. Russia and Madagascar put me to the test, but the chaotic world of a post-conflict war zone was an even greater challenge.


A year after defending my doctoral thesis in January 2003, I found myself in Iraq’s “Green Zone.” Tracking lemurs was tricky, but at least we never had to worry about improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Getting from Baghdad’s airport to the heavily fortified Green Zone took you down Route Irish, a heavily barricaded seven-mile road. The trip was short, and the road was extensively patrolled by US forces. But Route Irish was still deadly. Targets became a magnet for snipers, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), and hidden IEDs.

Gorgeous, towering palms in the median ticked past, but no one was paying much attention to the landscaping. The unarmored bus was filled with employees of the State Department and the Department of Defense, all of us quiet, tensely scanning every overpass for snipers and eyeing every dead animal or bag of garbage as a potential IED. The drivers along Route Irish eyed each other nervously, scanning for fanaticism on the faces of the other drivers, since cars themselves were sometimes used as suicide bombs.

We arrived fifteen minutes later at the gate of the palace—a gaudy, vulgar monument to excess. Its very architecture projected Saddam’s absolute power. For many, the palace stood for torture and death. It became the nerve center of the occupation government—Imperialis Americae—the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). Saddam’s throne room in the palace would become my bedroom, among hundreds of other staffers, soldiers, and contractors, all sleeping in bunk beds under the throne room’s perpetually lit dome.

The State Department had assigned me to the work of redirecting Iraqi weapons scientists, running one of the first State Department programs under what had been an entirely DOD-Intelligence operation. Although the mission was hard enough on its own—I was working in an active war zone where the landscape and security climate was constantly shifting—it was made harder by the lack of support from the Department of Defense and intelligence agencies as well as my own lack of experience with nonproliferation. I was a lemur biologist, not a specialist in nuclear, chemical, or biological weapon systems. Although my work in Baghdad could not have been more different from my jungle sojourn in Madagascar, I once again found myself building a scientific ecosystem out of chaos.

The program I co-ran with Dr. Carl Philips, an adventurous and tough fellow evolutionary biologist from Texas Tech who had spent a career in the tropics, was only the third redirection project in American history. In the wake of World War II and in the shadow of the escalating Cold War, the United States brought over 1,500 German military scientists and engineers to work on US nuclear and space programs, and also to keep their knowledge out of Russian hands. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Senators Sam Nunn and Dick Lugar created the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, which worked with former Eastern bloc and Soviet countries to decommission nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons sites and redirect former weapons scientists.

Cooperative threat reduction in Iraq proved very different from efforts in post-WWII Germany and the post-Soviet republics, however. War and looting had destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure, the civilian science sector had collapsed due to militarization and sanctions, and there was a shocking lack of information available on the status of Iraqi weapons efforts. And while Russian and German cultures shared religion and history with the US, Iraq did not—not to mention there was a smoldering civil war about to explode. While the US put billions into a fruitless search for Saddam’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, it overlooked the very people whose knowledge posed the true threat and then left them at home without a salary.

Early on, it was clear that the redirection effort required a civilian scientific community, since without it, there was nowhere to redirect the former weapons scientists. Rebuilding a robust civilian scientific community would also help rebuild the nation at large. In Iraq, I shuttled between two unique and ephemeral communities—the contractors, translators, diplomats, and development officials who rarely left the Green Zone, and the community of Iraqis, journalists, fixers, soldiers, war profiteers, and adventurers who existed outside the Green Zone, which included most of the scientists who had been involved with the weapons programs. Science had a central role in post-war Iraq, not only to reduce the threat through nonproliferation but to rebuild a society ravaged by three wars in a generation. The Iran-Iraq War, Operation Desert Storm, and the 2003 invasion and subsequent insurgency left a once-cosmopolitan and educated nation reeling. Through the redirection program, we sought to harness Iraq’s greatest natural resource—not its oil but its intelligentsia—to renew the country that existed beyond the concrete and razor-wire barriers of the Green Zone.

Of course, this presumed we could actually find the scientists. Once we did, we would need to separate those who had truly dangerous knowledge from those who merely assisted in a weapons project but had no conceptual or technical knowledge that would allow another country to develop a weapon. This required identifying scientists at universities through their scholarly publications, interviewing them, and making decisions about the nature of what they knew and whether they could put it to use. We had to accomplish all this without the assistance of the acting wartime sovereign government that had been established by the Department of Defense—the Coalition Provisional Authority—and sometimes in spite of the outright hostility and direct interference of other parts of our government. Our mission took us outside the safety of the Green Zone without armored vehicles, security contractors, IED-jamming devices, or helicopter escorts. But this actually proved to be an advantage since the insurgency was using the extent of the security protection as a way of prioritizing their targets.

As I later saw in Afghanistan, wars create dialectics within them—they are simultaneously both safe and dangerous, stable and chaotic, rich with life and opportunity and barren, desolate, and devoid of hope. The restaurant filled with diners where you ate the day before might be bombed the following day, killing all the staff who cooked and served the dinner you had eaten. The streets that were filled with children playing one day were eerily empty the next, making you look at every dead dog and wonder whether it had been made into an IED.* You wondered whether the guard at the checkpoint labeled with the words KILL ZONE, who tonight protected you, might also fire upon you the following night because you approached too fast or failed to dim your headlights. One night, we ate at an outdoor kabob restaurant in Baghdad, lounging on the grass, and watched mortars and rockets fall upon the Green Zone, where I would be returning a few hours later, as if they were a fireworks display on the Fourth of July. This wasn’t true for just the foreigners but the local people as well. Which world you got depended on chance, and the boundaries that delineated safety frequently shifted. The wrong turn, the wrong stop, leaving five minutes earlier, may result in death. However, for the Iraqis and other denizens of war zones, there was no choice, no option, other than to continue to live life and seek and cherish the moments of normalcy.

The work in Iraq was also the subject of a bureaucratic skirmish between the Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of State (DOS) over control of the redirection program, and a larger battle between which institution, the DOD or the DOS, Rumsfeld or Powell, would reign supreme. The DOD, with more musicians in army bands than the State Department had employees, would tend to have the upper hand.

The internecine infighting manifested in strange ways. The DOD would not handle, hold, or transfer DOS funds for our program. Since Iraq was under sanctions, there was no way to get government funds into the country other than carrying them directly. So I flew in and out of Baghdad on a C-130, climbing like a corkscrew straight up above the airport to stay out of range of shoulder-mounted surface-to-air missiles and random bullets, bound for the US embassy in Kuwait—the closest State Department facility. At the embassy’s cashier office, I filled up a backpack with as much as $30,000 in cash, signed a personal guarantee for the funds, and turned right around for Baghdad to run my program. This happened every few weeks.


  • Captivating....With clarity and a bit of awe, Dehgan describes Afghanistan's geological past and its 'dramatic and largely unappreciated biodiversity'....He leaves readers with an optimistic message that, in any sphere of life, effective collaboration toward common goals can benefit everyone.—Publishers Weekly
  • The Snow Leopard Project is a richly detailed chronicle of Alex Dehgan's often-harrowing journey through Afghanistan to help save stunningly beautiful parts of a war-torn land. Dehgan is a brave and intrepid traveler, and he takes readers into his adventures with unique wildlife in one of the planet's most remote landscapes. His improbable journey, rendered with grace and insight, is a must-read for anyone who craves adventure and is curious about the world beyond our borders.—Rajiv Chandrasekaran, author of Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan
  • Saving snow leopards and opening a national park in a warzone sounds crazy, but that's just what Alex Dehgan set out to do in Afghanistan. This is a remarkable story of courage, humor, and tenacity---and making peace where the politicians have failed. Dehgan brought people together through an unexpected common purpose-protecting one of the world's most exquisite endangered animals.—Christina Lamb, O.B.E., chief foreign correspondent, The Sunday Times, co-author of I Am Malala and The Sewing Circle of Herat
  • In The Snow Leopard Project, Alex Dehgan shows us that the biological Silk Road-with its Marco Polo sheep, show leopards, and ibex-is as unique and diverse as the cultural Silk Road. He takes us into the heart of war-torn Afghanistan on a mission to survery the biodiversity, to set aside national parks, and to investigate the illegal wildlife trade. This book engages the reader from the very beginning, with a gripping, fast-paced set of adventure stories and a moral imperative. It should be required reading for anyone interested in conservation.—Patricia Wright, conservationist and founder of the Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments, Stonybrook University, MacArthur Genius Award-winner
  • An eye-opening account of what it takes to protect wildlife under improbable conditions. Dehgan's zeal for conservation, passion for humanitarian outreach, and admiration for the Afghan people spring from every page.—Booklist
  • [An] intriguing, detailed, frequently unnerving account... The author vividly describes the rugged lands he and his crew encountered... Dehgan's lessons provide a sort of textbook on the frustrations and complexities of working on conservation in a place where science runs into the snarls of politics and diplomacy-and often loses—Kirkus Reviews
  • "Less a book about research than about the trials, triumphs and occasional absurdity of building a conservation programme in extreme circumstances."—Nature
  • "The Snow Leopard Project illuminates a vital area of science - and a country filled with natural and cultural beauty. I was captivated by Dehgan's writing, chapter by chapter."—NationalPublic Radio
  • "A stunning true story about efforts to protect these endangered cats and other rare species while also helping to defend the human culture around them-and strengthening the bond between people and nature in the process."—TheRevelator
  • "This compelling look at conservation efforts in a war-torn country is a must-read for anyone interested in attempts to stem the loss of biodiversity."

On Sale
Jan 22, 2019
Page Count
288 pages

Alex Dehgan

About the Author

Alex Dehgan is the founder and CEO of Conservation X Labs, which is focused on transforming the field of conservation through technological and financial innovation. Previously, he was USAID’s first chief scientist in twenty years, and ensured that USAID became the global leader on employing science, technology, and creativity to help solve development challenges.

Prior to his tenure at USAID, he worked at the Department of State on science diplomacy under Ambassador Dennis Ross, and later under Ambassador Holbrooke and the Office of the Special Representative to the President for Afghanistan and Pakistan. He was the William Rainey Harper Fellow for the Biological Sciences Division at the University of Chicago, and was granted a Searle Fellowship and a National Science Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship among twenty-one other awards, fellowships, and grants he has received during the tenure of his career. He currently teaches at Duke University. He has worked and traveled in almost ninety countries across five continents.

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