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The Snow Leopard Project: And Other Adventures in Warzone Conservation

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  157 ratings  ·  29 reviews
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
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published January 22nd 2019 by PublicAffairs
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Sep 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Before reading this book, I didn't know or think much of Afghanistan's wildlife or natural beauty. I imagined a dusty, arid desert - that's what we're shown on TV. But now, after immersing myself in Dehgan's stories of the country, I have a sense of appreciation for the diversity and value of Afghanistan's ecosystems - from the lake valleys and travertine formations of Band-e-Amir (seriously, you need to see the photos) to the lush forests of Nuristan to the towering peaks of the Pamirs. Many ...more
A deep and cerebral memoir, The Snow Leopard Project reveals the unique mixture of foreign policy, cooperation between agencies and NGOs, and a variety of front-line field work required for large conservation projects. The familiar yet startlingly diverse setting of Afghanistan is the backdrop for many of the interesting and amusing complications encountered by Alex Dehgan while working on the Wildlife Conservation Society's Afghanistan Program.

Dehgan's memoir of his time with the reversed,
Tatjana Dzambazova
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ah, there is so much to say about this book!!
In a single sentence, I would just say: READ THIS BOOK.

If I am allowed to be verbose (which I always am, even when not allowed), I would say:

Read this book if you want to learn about Conservation in war /post-war zones and making an impact without the power of authority but the power of education and conviction

Read it if you want to laugh Alexs humorous story-telling makes you laugh even about mis-adventures and close encounters that could have ended
Nov 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Am actually not done but up to chapter 5 so have read 98 pages. Sadly it is written with all the earnestness of a government report. The topic is interesting so I will come back to finish it but right now I have other ebooks expiring soon that I want to get to. Did finish later in November; it was a good chapter at a time type book.
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
I struggled with reading this book. I think part of the struggle was due to the book being a hodgepodge of
anecdotes and I also struggled with the basic concept of doing basic wildlife conservation survey work in such a intense war zone. In order to establish national parks that are effective, a country needs to have a stable government. Obviously this did not exist in Afghanistan, so why embark on the adventure other than to pad the authors resume and pocketbook at the expense of the United
Feb 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Dehgans account of his time with the Wildlife Conservation Society was interesting, and I enjoyed (if thats the right word) the look at the history of Afghanistan and the current realities and challenges of trying to do conservation work there.

But this book really could have used a heavier editing hand to tighten the narrative and make it more engaging and impactful. The chapters are somewhat anecdotal and its hard to get a sense of a timeline. He starts to pull a lot of different threads, but
Morgann Gordon
Jan 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Conservationists, advanced readers familiar with science-related terminology
Shelves: january-2020
Let's start off by saying that my 3-star review belies my true enjoyment for this book. Good news first bad news last? Okay then, here we go...

What I liked
1. The science behind the story. I know I'm a broken record, but my career is important to me, so as a trained Biologist, I loved the why behind this book. I feel like for me, Dehgan didn't need to explain to his audience why conservation is crucial, why this book is essential, and why the longevity of his work is critical. For most, this is
Mar 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Although it suffers in places for a lack of cohesive visionis this a political report justifying further spending on a program? A journalistic narrative of life in Afghanistan? A précis sketch of the biodiversity and ecology of the Pamir region? Dehgan seems to attempt all of these and succeed only in being slightly muddledThe Snow Leopard Project is, nevertheless, a thoroughly enjoyable book. The conservation elements of the story are not its strong points, often seeming to play second fiddle ...more
Ben Truong
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: autobiography, memoir
The Snow Leopard Project: And Other Adventures in Warzone Conservation is an autobiographical memoir written by Alex Dehgan, an evolutionary biologist. This book chronicles his work with the Wildlife Conservation Society to establish Afghanistan's first National Park.

First arriving in Kabul in 2006, Dehgan realizes early on that success for the ambitious project would depend if there was sufficient wildlife left in the country, if the government and its people would even be interested in a
Eva Pell
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have just completed The Snow Leopard Project and other adventures in warzone conservation, by Alex Deghan. What a gift this book is for anyone concerned with the perils of shrinking biodiversity, the plight of the nation of Afghanistan and its diverse human population, and the machinations of international/governmental bureaucracy. Deghan uses his lens as a biologist, a member of an NGOWCS, a former and future civil servant, and as a first generation Iranian-American to describe how he led an ...more
Nov 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaway, non-fiction
I was randomly selected to receive an ARC from Public Affairs as part of a book giveaway they sponsored.
It is apparent from the very beginning the author's love for Afghanistan and his devotion to conservation across the planet. Where it bogged down for me was the minute details of team building of each and every event. I understand why and appreciate the author's desire to acknowledge everyone's contributions but for the average reader, it gets a bit tedious. The best parts for me were his
Aug 08, 2019 rated it liked it
I was searching for a book last year about warfare and environmentalism, and saw this was coming out. It finallyyyyy released, but its taken me a while to get through it.

Good book. Very informative. Some funny stories in there by the author, but the big picture is really just about how crazy hard it is to enact government programs in a conflict/reconstruction zone. Really interesting learnings in there that were eye opening.

My big complaint is that like most contemporary foreign
Wiebke Kuhn
While the larger story and embedded stories are quite interesting, I was wishing for more skilled editing to reduce repetition and some wordiness. However, one could argue that the style of the book echoes the ridiculous bureaucratic structures the narrator is encountering while trying to establish national parks in Afghanistan and protecting its wild animals. The contrast between the Kafkaesque processes and the progress made because one or two people make careful and caring decisions is quite ...more
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a very interesting book, although I only gave it 4 out of 5 stars as some of the writing lost me in a couple places.  Otherwise, it was great!

Alex Dehgan arrives in Afghanistan in 2006 in hopes 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.  Quite honestly, I never thought about wildlife in that area and what war would do to their home.  I was
El Cachorro
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I enjoyed being led through the afghan wilderness by a wildlife guide, and not told only the story of war. Of course the scars of war - destruction, violence, and pessimism - are not avoided, but they frame a story of hope. Light can be found in darkness, if you follow a conservationist with a head lamp and stubbornness for proving an extinct species lives (still have my fingers crossed for that Asiatic cheetah). There are humans on the brink, and yet there signs of optimism, descriptions of ...more
Melissa Guckenberger
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Warzone conservation is a topic I find personally fascinating and extremely important. This book covers an array of topics ranging from pure conservation to history, culture, and the people that make up modern day Afghanistan. The author is humble, articulate, and clearly full of admiration for Afghanistan and his Afghan colleagues. I can see why some may suggest better editing, but I can imagine that finding a way to tell this story even more succinctly would be difficult. I found it to be a ...more
Kurt Kemmerer
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
The book gets four stars for the content, but the author would have benefitted from some good editing. Still. The stories offer both hope and despair, and should be better known. The corruption and waste of dollars in Afghanistan during the authors time there is appalling, but hope for improvement, for science to lead the way at USAID are offered, though with much less detail. Still, the creation of National Parks in Afghanistan, the stories of the people of that country, ought to inspire the ...more
Kitty Galore
Aug 20, 2019 rated it liked it
While it appears this book has thus far received mainly favorable reviews, I found it seriously lacking in information regarding the snow leopard. Mr. Delgan instead wrote in extensive detail about the difficulty of setting up the offices and obtaining jurisdiction over the wild animal project. When he finally got to the actual encounters with animals, it became serious avoidance (metaphorically). There was no real substance here.
Nov 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
Really interesting book; I had never thought of how the wildlife fares in armed conflict zones. Glad to know that the group's efforts in Afghanistan made a difference, and that the endangered wildlife habitats were protected. The author is clearly well-informed and has led an interesting life... I just wish he had employed a better editor for some of his ramblings.
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
I agree with some other reviewers that a bit more editing could have improved this bookI occasionally had to skim over some tedious and unnecessary detail. However, I enjoyed this book and learned a lot from it about international conservation work and about Afghanistan. I also appreciated the authors humorous anecdotes breaking up the very heavy subject matter. ...more
Mike Parkes
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, conservation
Quirky and interesting stories about wildlife conservation in Afghanistan under (obviously) challenging circumstances. Also gives a good overview of the different natural regions and biodiversity of Afghanistan.
Mar 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Almost any of Alex Dehgan's experiences in this book would make a great movie! My only criticism is that it (like many books these days) could have used a better editor.
Oct 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Just an incredible read on
Dec 13, 2019 rated it liked it
264 pages

The complexities of conservation.
Andy Kindle
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating read on international development and wildlife protection in a war zone. Makes me really want to visit Afghanistan and it's national parks.
Johnny Watkins
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is every conservationists dream. Although the writing was self congratulatory at times and more oriented at the political environment, it was an incredible insight into how conservation is achieved. The participation of all levels of government is extremely encouraging for the continued success of the project.
Rishi Krishnan
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great read for anyone who wants to read about conservation and the history / people of Afghanistan.
Luke Mercer
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Wish there were half stars.
Michelle Bizzell
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An eye-opening, funny, hopeful book about what it looks like on the ground, trying to save the natural world in a war zone.
Erin Hennigan
rated it really liked it
Jun 28, 2019
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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 ...more

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