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Additional data to the herpetofauna of Afghanistan
expand article infoDaniel Jablonski, John M. Regan§, Chace Holzheuser|, Javeed Farooqi, Abdul Basit, Rafaqat Masroor#
‡ Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia
§ Unaffiliated, Graham, United States of America
| Florida State University, Tallahassee, United States of America
¶ University of Chitral, Chitral, Pakistan
# Pakistan Museum of Natural History, Islamabad, Pakistan
Open Access

Abstract

This study provides observation on 21 species of amphibians and reptiles obtained during various field trips in Afghanistan from 2007 to 2018. The core of this study is distributional data collected mostly by the second author of this paper that were systematically evaluated. Our records show a notable expansion of the current distribution range for several species and highlight the need for more extensive further sampling within the entire country. The first record of Cyrtopodion agamuroides (Nikolsky, 1900) complex for Afghanistan is presented here, increasing the number of herpetofauna in the country to 117 species.

Abstract in Pashto

دا تحقیقات د 21 نوع په ژوندی حیواناتو او خزندگانو په هکله په مختلف عملی سفرونو کی د 2007 نه تر 2018 پوری په افغانستان کی ترلاسه شوی دی. ددی تحقیقاتو عمدی برخی دوئم لیکوال په واسطه ارزیابی شوی وه چی دتشریح ور دی. زموژ فعلی یاداشتونه دحیواناتو انواع زیاتوالی دملاحظه ور دی او دتول هیواد په کچه نمونی اخیستلو ضرورت دی او انکشاف ورکرل شی. لومری مرکب Cyrtopodion agamuroides (Nikolsky, 1900) دلته ننداری ته ورادنی کیږی چی دخزندگانو تعداد 117 قسمونو ته لوریگی

Abstract in Dari Persian

ين تحقيقات در ارتباط به 21 نوع حيوانات ذولحيات وخزنده كه درجريان سفرها مختلف علمي از سال 2007 الي 2018 در افغانستان بدست آمده ، را تحت مشاهده قرار ميدهد۔ بخش عمده اين تحقيقات توسط نويسنده دوهمي ارزيابي گريده بود كه قابل تشريح است۔ يادداشت هايي فعلي مان درارتبا ط به گسترش انواع مختلف حيوانات چشمگير بوده ومطالب كه جهت نمونه گيري در سراسر كشور نياز است ، توسع داده ميشود۔ اولين مركب Cyrtopodion agamuroides (Nikolsky, 1900) دراينجا به نمايش گذاشته ميشود كه تعداد از خزندہ را به 117 نوع آن افرايش ميدهد

Key Words

amphibians, reptiles, first record, distribution, zoogeography, Central Asia

Introduction

Afghanistan is one of the most biodiverse countries at the junction of Central and South Asia, with an extremely varied mountainous and desert topography resulting in numerous habitat types. This fact is also reflected in the composition of amphibians and reptiles, with 116 species (118 with subspecies) in 21 families known to date (Wagner et al. 2016). The herpetofauna of this country is comprised of Palearctic and Oriental elements, two main zoogeographic regions of Eurasia (Sindaco and Jeremčenko 2008; Wagner et al. 2016), which makes Afghanistan a crucial territory regarding research of historical biogeography. Simultaneously, it is one of the least known countries in terms of current biodiversity research due to forty years of continuous war and instability. There are decent foundational knowledge and publications on species diversity and distribution accumulated and published during a forty-year period called “Afghanistan’s Golden Age” from about the 1930s to the mid-1970s (see Wagner et al. 2016 for a review). However, data obtained and published after this period are rare and mostly referred to old collections (e.g. Clark 1992; Kuch 2004; Wagner et al. 2016; Jablonski and Lesko 2018; Jablonski et al. 2019). Therefore, the country remains largely unexplored and poorly surveyed. Whereas original distribution data on Afghan herpetofauna obtained in the 21st century are virtually absent in published literature, to bridge the gaps, we here present additional distribution data recently collected in Afghanistan.

Material and methods

This study compiles records from several independent field observations (own or acquired from other sources) procured from 2007 to 2018 in different parts of the following provinces of Afghanistan: Badakhshan, Baghlan, Balkh, Helmand, Kabul, Kandahar, Paktia, Paktika, Uruzgan and Zabul. Distribution data were taken from 22 georeferenced points (Table 1). Most of the records and photographs came from irregular field trips conducted by the second author (JR) during his non-zoological photographic work in Afghanistan in the period 2008–2011. This author presented some of these records (mainly as photographs or comments in the text) in a small guide (Regan 2017; Fig. 1) with a very general format. Although data in this guide are very interesting and have value, they lack deeper zoological evaluation and contain a number of wrongly identified species. We revised all obtained and available data, corrected species taxonomy and summarised available information on locality, geographic position, date of observation, type of observed habitat and any other pertinent information. Furthermore, Regan´s guide contains additional species that were observed in Saudi Arabia, not Afghanistan and which could confuse further field data compilations for Afghanistan: Trapelus ruderatus (p. 21), Phrynocephalus maculatus (p. 22), and Bunopus tuberculatus (p. 28). Therefore, we excluded these species from the checklist presented below. Other dubious cases or misidentifications are explained in the main text. All available data presented here were compared with the dataset of localities presented by Wagner et al. (2016) and we made updated maps for certain species using QGIS software (2019). All species or specimens photographs presented here were accessioned into the Herpetology collection of the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida (FLMNH UF 189172-232; Suppl. material 1).

Figure 1. 

The field guide for Afghan amphibians and reptiles published by John Regan (2017) containing the data we critically evaluated in this study.

Georeferenced localities presented as decimal degree recorded in Afghanistan with corresponding elevation and species.

Province Locality Coordinates elevation (m) Species
Badakhshan Arga Queshlaq 37.2399N, 70.3561E 1189 Bufotes viridis complex
Broghil Pass 36.8860N, 73.3540E ~3800 Bufotes viridis complex
Jurm 36.8627N, 70.8341E 1555 Hemorrhois ravergieri
Baghlan Pol-e-Khomri 35.9692N, 68.6914E 623 Testudo horsfieldii
Balkh Camp Mike Spann Chapel, Mazar-i-Sharif 36.6503N, 66.9965E 409 Trapelus agilis, Tenuidactylus caspius, Platyceps rhodorachis
Camp Marmal, Mazar-i-Sharif 36.7024N, 67.2358E 390 Platyceps karelini
Dehdadi 36.6403N, 66.9382E 418 Bufotes viridis complex
Kaldar 37.1474N, 67.7771E 305 Eremias aff. nigrocellata
Mazar-i-Sharif 36.6890N, 67.1360E 370 Bufotes viridis complex
Nahr Shahi 36.6565N, 66.9212E 402 Bufotes viridis complex
Shor Tepah 37.3346N, 66.8518E 281 Phrynocephalus mystaceus
Helmand Camp Leatherneck, Washir 31.8667N, 64.1954E 890 Cyrtopodion scabrum, C. agamuroides complex
Lashkargāh 31.6136N, 64.4081E 788 Trapelus agilis, Eremias persica, Mesalina watsonana
Lashkargāh 31.6095N, 64.4080E 770 Cyrtopodion scabrum
Kabul Camp Dubs - Kabul 34.4550N, 69.1076E 1865 Bufotes viridis complex, Cyrtopodion watsoni, Hemorrhois ravergieri, Platyceps rhodorachis, Psammophis schokari, Ptyas mucosa, Spalerosophis diadema
Darul Aman - Kabul 34.4549N, 69.1132E 1870 Altiphylax levitoni, Cyrtopodion scabrum
Kandahar Kandahar, Air Base 31.5210N, 65.8560E 1011 Bufotes viridis complex, Euphlyctis cyanophlyctis, Trapelus agilis, Trapelus aff. megalonyx, Cyrtopodion scabum, Eremias persica, Mesalina watsonana, Platyceps rhodorachis, Echis carinatus
Spin Boldak 30.9938N, 66.3619E 1193 Spalerosophis diadema
Paktia Gardez, Gardez Base 33.5868N, 69.2731E 2374 Trapelus aff. megalonyx, Eremias persica
Paktika Waza Kwah 31.9498N, 68.8266E 2077 Testudo horsfieldii, Eremias persica
Uruzgan Tarin Kowt 32.6138N, 65.8666E 1338 Trapelus agilis
Zabul Lagman Base, Qalat 32.1306N, 66.9277E 1596 Testudo horsfieldii, Trapelus agilis

Results and discussion

We present a checklist of amphibian and reptile species observed and/or photographed in Afghanistan that, in most cases, represent new locality or provincial records for the country. Two families of amphibians and six families of reptiles were recorded with 21 species presented overall in the checklist. An additional species, Cyrtopodion agamuroides (Nikolsky, 1900) complex, is here the first to be presented as another reptile for the species list of herpetofauna in Afghanistan.

AMPHIBIA

Anura

Bufonidae

Bufotes viridis (Laurenti, 1768) complex

Distribution in Afghanistan

According to Wagner et al. (2016), this species complex comprised four species (B. oblongus, B. baturae/pseudoraddei, B. turanensis, B. zugmayeri) that are recorded throughout Afghanistan, except the central Hindu Kush range (Fig. 2). We here followed comments presented in Jablonski et al. (2019), noting that comprehensive phylogeographic views on the genus are needed to resolve species distribution and phylogenetic composition in Afghanistan. This iconic toad complex is currently known from provinces Badakhshan, Badghis, Baglan, Balkh, Bamyan, Farah, Faryab, Ghazni, Helmand, Herat, Kabul, Kandahar, Kunduz, Logar, Nangarhar, Paktia, Samangan, Takhar, Wardak and Zabul (Wagner et al. 2016; Jablonski et al. 2019 and see therein for additional information). Wagner et al. (2016) did not assign (due to missing museum material) the record presented by Buchroithner (1981) that reported these toads from Tila Bay Valley (~37.28N, 73.33E, 4160 m a.s.l.), Wakhan, Badakhshan. This author mentioned an occurrence of B. latastii in Badakhshan, but this species is endemic to western Himalaya and is not known from the Hindu Kush range (Litvinchuk et al. 2018b).

Figure 2. 

Updated herpetofaunistic records from Afghanistan (white dots: data of Buchroithner, 1981; Wagner et al. 2016; Jablonski et al. 2019; red dots: data of this study). Bufotes viridis complex (including species B. oblongus, B. baturae/pseudoraddei, B. turanensis and B. zugmayeri presented by Wagner et al. 2016): 1 – Dehdadi, Balkh; 2 – Nahr Shahi, Balkh; 3 – Mazar-i-Sharif, Balkh; 4 – Arga Queshlaq, Badakhshan; 5 – Broghil Pass, Badakhshan; 6 – Camp Dubs - Kabul, Kabul; 7 – Kandahar, Air Base, Kandahar. Euphlyctis cyanophlyctis: Kandahar, Air Base, Kandahar. Testudo horsfieldii: 1 – Pol-e-Khomri, Baghlan; 2 – Lagman Base, Qalat, Zabul; 3 – Waza Kwah, Paktika. Phrynocephalus mystaceus: Shor Tepah, Balkh. Trapelus agilis: 1– Camp Mike Spann Chapel, Mazar-i-Sharif, Balkh; 2 – Lashkargāh, Helmand; 3 – Kandahar, Air Base, Kandahar; 4 – Lagman Base, Qalat, Zabul; 5 – Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan. Trapelus megalonyx: 1 – Kandahar, Air Base, Kandahar; 2 – Gardez, Gardez Base, Paktia.

Our records

(Fig. 2). 1 – Dehdadi, Balkh (25 September 2011), one adult individual in semi-desert area; 2 – Nahr Shahi, Balkh (25 September 2011), one adult individual in village area; 3 – Mazar-i-Sharif, Balkh (11 September 2015), one adult female in house garden area (Fig. 3E); 4 – Arga Queshlaq, Badakhshan (22 July 2012), one adult female under the rock near an artificial canal (Fig. 3F); 5 – Broghil Pass, Wakhan, Badakhshan (4 September 2007); six adults in a hot water spring in rocky area; 6 – Camp Dubs - Kabul, Kabul (15 July 2011), several hundreds of tadpoles and juveniles in artificial ponds, dozens of adults in its vicinity (Fig. 3D); 7 – Kandahar, Air Base, Kandahar (17 May 2009), several dozens of juveniles, subadult and adult individuals (Fig. 3A–C) in the vicinity of an artificial pond near the runway in semi-desert area (Fig. 10A).

Figure 3. 

Observed individuals of Bufotes viridis complex (Bufonidae) from Afghanistan: A, B, C – Different post-metamorphic stages of the species complex from Kandahar, Air Base, Kandahar; D – adult individual from Camp Dubs – Kabul, Kabul; E – adult female from Mazar-i-Sharif, Balkh (photo by Nasser Halaweh); F – adult female from Arga Queshlaq (photo by Glyn Morris).

Remarks

According to the map of Wagner et al. (2016), toads from Balkh Province should belong to B. turanensis (or B. pewzowi, B. shaartusiensis, see Ficetola and Stöck 2016; Litvinchuk et al. 2018a), from Badakhshan and Kabul Provinces to B. baturae/pseudoraddei and from Kandahar to B. zugmayeri. Although all our records represent new localities, they fall within regions or areas where these toads were previously known. Locality 5 represents an interesting record near Broghil Pass at an elevation of about ~3800 m. Regan (2017) identified these toads incorrectly as “Pseudepidalea viridis” and “Bufo surdus” (pp. 51–55). The genus Pseudepidalea is a less used generic name for these toads, while Bufotes surdus (Boulenger, 1891) has never been recorded in Afghanistan.

Dicroglossidae

Euphlyctis cyanophlyctis (Schneider, 1799)

Distribution in Afghanistan

According to Wagner et al. (2016), this species is known from three isolated regions: first follows the valleys of Kabul and Kaitu Rivers in the east, second from Helmand River in the south and third from the area between the Khash and Farah Rud rivers in the south-west (provinces Farah, Helmand, Khost, Laghman, Nangarhar; Fig. 2).

Our records

(Fig. 2). Kandahar, Air Base, Kandahar (17 May 2009), several dozen juveniles, subadult and adult individuals (Fig. 4A), grouped in large numbers in the artificial pond near the runway in semi-desert area (Fig. 10A).

Remarks

Distribution of this species in Afghanistan is restricted to the aforementioned river valleys or oasis and the surrounding vicinity and represents the species’ northern distribution. Our record is the first for Kandahar Province and represents a new locality of the species.

Figure 4. 

Observed species of Dicroglossidae, Testudinidae and Agamidae families from Afghanistan: A – adult individuals of Euphlyctis cyanophlyctis from Kandahar, Air Base, Kandahar; B – adult individual of Testudo horsfieldii from Pol-e-Khomri, Baghlan; C – adult individual of Phrynocephalus mystaceus from Shor Tepah, Balkh; D – juvenile individual of Trapelus agilis from Lashkargāh, Helmand; E – adult male of T. agilis from Lagman Base, Qalat, Zabul; F, G – adult and subadult males of T. agilis from Kandahar, Air Base, Kandahar; H – adult male of T. aff. megalonyx from Gardez Base, Gardez, Paktia; I – adult individual of T. aff. megalonyx from Kandahar, Air Base, Kandahar.

REPTILIA

Testudines

Testudinidae

Testudo horsfieldii Gray, 1844

Distribution in Afghanistan

This tortoise is probably distributed throughout Afghanistan except the central massif of Hindu Kush and its valleys (Wagner et al. 2016 and see remarks therein for additional localities with an unclear position; Fig. 2). It is currently known from provinces of Balkh, Farah, Ghazni, Herat, Jowzjan, Kabul, Kunduz and Nimroz.

Our records

(Fig. 2). 1 – Pol-e-Khomri, Baghlan (27 October 2011), one adult individual (Fig. 4B) recorded in the city; 2 – Lagman Base, Qalat, Zabul (14 March 2008), two adult individuals in semi-desert area of the Base; 3 – Waza Kwah, Paktika (6 December 2008), five adult individuals in arid habitat near a small village (Fig. 10D).

Remarks

All our records represent new localities and first species observations for the respective provinces. Localities 2 and 3 represent an important range extension in the country, connecting known species distributions in Afghanistan and Pakistan (Khan 2006). Wagner et al. (2016) recognises T. h. horsfieldii in Afghanistan. However, Fritz et al. (2009) mentioned the possible occurrence of another mitochondrial clade that could represent a different subspecies. We have noticed cases in Kabul and Kandahar where tortoises were stored by local traders for the Chinese food market. Therefore, conservation programmes should be prepared for this endangered tortoise.

Squamata

Agamidae

Phrynocephalus mystaceus (Pallas, 1776)

Distribution in Afghanistan

This species is currently known from only three provinces (Balkh, Faryab, Jowzjan) in northern Afghanistan (Wagner et al. 2016). Clark (1990) mentioned this species as common.

Our records

(Fig. 2). Shor Tepah, Balkh (8 September 2011), one adult individual (Fig. 4C) in sand dunes area near the Amu Darya River.

Remarks

Our record is the northernmost for the species in Afghanistan, only 2000 m from the border with Uzbekistan.

Trapelus agilis (Olivier, 1804)

Distribution in Afghanistan

Distribution of this species in the country is well known compared to other herpetofauna. It is known from provinces Badakhshan, Badgis, Farah, Faryab, Ghazni, Helmand, Herat, Jowzjan, Kabul, Kandahar, Takhar and Zabul (Wagner et al. 2016). The following localities, presented by Wagner et al. (2016; p. 479–480), are not georeferenced in their study and are missing in the presented map: “Dahlah (MZLU L958/3239)”, “Faisabad, Kobt af indjodle (ZMUC R-36149)”, “nr Tarnak River, 75 km NE of Kandahar (CAS 90777)”, “nr Tarnak River, 90 km NE of Kandahar (CAS 90765-66)”, “Uden Merke (ZMUC R-36156)”. The geographically different but unclear localities “Seistan [Faizabad Prov.]” and “Seistan [Baqrabad Prov.]”, for which Wagner et al. (2016) used the same coordinates located in western Afghanistan, are omitted here.

Our records

(Fig. 2). 1 – Camp Mike Spann Chapel, Mazar-i-Sharif, Balkh (1 October 2010), one adult individual observed in the bushy habitat in the camp; 2 – Lashkargāh, Helmand (3 September 2009), several adult and juvenile individuals (Fig. 4D) observed in the semi-arid habitat; 3 – Kandahar, Air Base, Kandahar (6 March 2009), several adult and subadult individuals (Fig. 4F, G) observed in the desert habitat with bushes near runway; 4 – Lagman Base, Qalat, Zabul (18 May 2009); ten individuals (Fig. 4E) observed in the semi-desert habitat; 5 – Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan (16 October 2008), several adult, subadult and juvenile individuals observed in the rocky habitat.

Remarks

All records presented here represent new locality data for the species in Afghanistan. Localities 1 and 5 represent new provincial records (Fig. 2). Regan (2017) presents this species on pp. 16–20. The individual from page 18 is presented here as Trapelus aff. megalonyx (see below).

Trapelus megalonyx Günther, 1864

Distribution in Afghanistan

This species is known mainly from south-eastern parts of the country (provinces Baghlan, Ghazni, Kabul, Kandahar, Kapisa, Logar, Nangarhar, Uruzgan and Wardak; Wagner et al. 2016; Jablonski et al. 2019). One record is presented from Fayzabad (Badakhshan) that is not marked in the Wagner et al. (2016) map (Plate 5, p. 541).

Our records

(Fig. 2). 1 – Kandahar, Air Base, Kandahar (17 May 2009), one adult individual (Fig. 4I) in the desert habitat with bushes near the runway; 2 – Gardez, Gardez Base, Paktia (2 May 2008), one adult individual (Fig. 4H) observed in the semi-desert, rocky habitat.

Remarks

Both our records are new locality data. The record from Kandahar is currently the most western point of the species in the country and the record from Paktia is the first for the province. Although our records clearly correspond with the distribution range of the species in the country and individuals are very similar to T. megalonyx, photos do not allow better examination for clear species determination. Regan (2017) presents both records as T. agilis (pp. 15, 18). However, the individual from Gardez showed unusual colour patterns with an atypical violet dot on the lateral part of the body (Fig. 4H). Therefore, we present our records as “affiliated” to T. megalonyx.

Gekkonidae

Altiphylax levitoni (Golubev & Szczerbak, 1979)

Distribution in Afghanistan

Known only from three provinces in the central-eastern part of the country (Ghazni, Kabul, Logar; Wagner et al. 2016)

Our records

Darul Aman – Kabul, Kabul (20 May 2011), one adult and one subadult individual (Fig. 6A) were observed in the rocky area of the Darul Aman palace ruins.

Remarks

This species is known from Kabul city and its vicinity. Our record clearly falls in close proximity of known localities for the species. Therefore, we did not map this record. This species is mentioned as “Unidentified Gecko” in Regan (2017; p. 29).

Cyrtopodion agamuroides (Nikolsky, 1900) complex

Distribution in Afghanistan

This species has never been recorded in the country (Wagner et al. 2016). Although Šmíd et al. (2014) mentioned its presence, they do not provide any reference or voucher specimen. On the other hand, this species is known from border areas of Iran and Pakistan (Khan 2006; Šmíd et al. 2014; Fig. 5) and its occurrence in Afghanistan was highly expected (Wagner et al. 2016).

Our records

(Fig. 5). Camp Leatherneck, Washir, Helmand (16 June 2009), one subadult individual (Figs 6C and D) found in desert habitat under waste (Fig. 10E).

Remarks

This is the first record of the species in Afghanistan, located approximately 250 airline km from the nearest locality in Iran (cf. Šmíd et al. 2014). Given morphological variability and ecological similarity with other members of Cyrtopodion (see Anderson 1999), this species probably forms a species complex that needs further examination.

Figure 5. 

Updated herpetofaunistic records from Afghanistan (white dots: Wagner et al. 2016 and Jablonski et al. 2019; red dots: data of this study). Cyrtopodion agamuroides complex: Camp Leatherneck, Washir, Helmand (first country record; cf. Šmíd et al. 2014). Cyrtopodion scabrum: 1 – Darul Aman - Kabul, Kabul; 2 - Camp Leatherneck, Washir, Helmand; 3 - Lashkargāh, Helmand; 4 - Kandahar, Air Base, Kandahar. Cyrtopodion watsoni: Camp Dubs - Kabul, Kabul. Eremias nigrocellata: Kaldar, Balkh. Eremias persica: 1 – Gardez Base, Gardez, Paktia; 2 – Waza Kwah, Paktika; 3 – Kandahar, Air Base, Kandahar; 4 – Lashkargāh, Helmand. Mesalina watsonana: 1 – Lashkargāh, Helmand; 2 – Kandahar, Air Base, Kandahar.

Figure 6. 

Observed species of the Gekkonidae family from Afghanistan: A – subadult individual of Altiphylax levitoni from Darul Aman - Kabul, Kabul; B – juvenile individual of Cyrtopodion scabrum from Kandahar, Air Base, Kandahar; C, D – subadult individual of C. agamuroides complex from Camp Leatherneck, Washir, Helmand; E – adult individual of C. watsoni from Camp Dubs - Kabul, Kabul; F – adult individual of C. scabrum from Darul Aman - Kabul, Kabul; G – adult individual of C. scabrum from Lashkargāh, Helmand; H – adult individual of C. scabrum from Camp Leatherneck, Washir, Helmand; I – adult individual of Tenuidactylus caspius from Camp Mike Spann Chapel, Mazar-i-Sharif, Balkh.

Cyrtopodion scabrum (von Heyden, 1827)

Distribution in Afghanistan

This species is currently reported from seven provinces mainly in eastern and southern Afghanistan (Farah, Helmand, Kabul, Kandahar, Khost, Nangarhar, Zabul; Wagner et al. 2016). However, a record from Nangarhar (locality Jalalabad) is not mapped by Wagner et al. (2016), although they present its distribution in the text (see p. 487 vs. Plate 6, p. 542). One dubious record from the north-western part of the country was presented by Sindaco and Jeremčenko (2008).

Our records

(Fig. 5): 1 – Darul Aman - Kabul, Kabul (15 July 2011), several adult individuals (Fig. 6F) from the rocky area of the Darul Aman palace ruins; 2 – Camp Leatherneck, Washir, Helmand (2 August 2010), one adult individual (Fig. 6H) from a building of the camp; 3 – Lashkargāh, Helmand (10 February 2009), dozens of adult individuals (Fig. 6G) from an old building in the middle of downtown; 4 – Kandahar, Air Base, Kandahar (19 May 2009), one juvenile individual (Fig. 6B) from the rocky area near buildings.

Remarks

Locality 1 in this study represents the first record for Kabul Province. Although other records represent new distribution data, they clearly fall into the known range of the species. This species is listed correctly by Regan (2017) on p. 24 but incorrectly on p. 26 (bottom photo; Lashkargāh, Helmand) as “Tenuidactylus caspius” that occurs in northern Afghanistan, but not in Helmand Province.

Cyrtopodion watsoni (Murray, 1892)

Distribution in Afghanistan

This species is known from two provinces; Nangarhar and Khost (Wagner et al. 2016; Fig. 5).

Our records

(Fig. 5). Camp Dubs - Kabul, Kabul (20 May 2011), one adult and subadult (Fig. 6E) individual on the buildings of the camp.

Remarks

This is the first record for Kabul Province and complements the species distribution in the north-eastern part of the country. This species is mentioned in Regan (2017) on p. 25.

Tenuidactylus caspius (Eichwald, 1831)

Distribution in Afghanistan

This species is known from northern parts of the country (provinces Badakhshan, Baghlan, Balkh, Herat, Jowzjan) and north-eastern (Kabul Prov.; Wagner et al. 2016).

Our records

Camp Mike Spann Chapel, Mazar-i-Sharif, Balkh (3 September 2010), one adult individual observed in a building of the camp (Fig. 6I).

Remarks

This species is already known from Mazar-i-Sharif and Balkh Province. Therefore, we did not map this record. The observation and species status is correctly described in Regan (2017) on p. 26 (upper photo).

Lacertidae

Eremias nigrocellata Nikolsky, 1896

Distribution in Afghanistan

Known only from northern Afghanistan (provinces Badakhshan, Baghlan, Balkh, Kunduz, Takhar; Wagner et al. 2016).

Our records

(Fig. 5). Kaldar, Balkh (8 October 2011), one adult individual (Fig. 7A) approx. 10 m from a newly dug canal in the stony, semi-desert habitat near the Amu-Darya River (Fig. 10B).

Remarks

The species is mentioned by Wagner et al. (2016) from the locality “Amu-Darya swamps, nr. Darquad, N of Djangi Quala, [Takhar Prov., 400 m] (ZMK 2562)” but coordinates presented for this locality are the same as for “Amu-Darya, N of Kunduz” (see therein Appendix 1, p. 551). Therefore, the distribution point from Takhar Prov. is not mapped and presented in Fig. 5 of this study. Our record is currently the northernmost locality of the species in Afghanistan, only ca. 1500 m from the border with Tajikistan and 4000 m from the border with Uzbekistan. Although our record clearly corresponds with the distribution range of the species in the country and colouration and pattern of the species corresponds with E. nigrocellata, we present this record as “affiliated”.

Figure 7. 

Observed species of the Lacertidae family from Afghanistan: A – adult individual of Eremias aff. nigrocellata from Kaldar, Balkh; B – adult male and female of E. persica displaying mating behaviour and juveniles (C, D) from Kandahar, Air Base, Kandahar; E, F – adult male and female of Mesalina watsonana from Kandahar, Air Base, Kandahar.

Eremias persica Blanford, 1875

Distribution in Afghanistan

This species is known from north-eastern, southern and western Afghanistan (provinces Badakhshan, Badghis, Farah, Ghazni, Helmand, Herat, Kabul, Kandahar, Khost, Nangarhar, Parwan, Wardak, Zabul; Wagner et al. 2016).

Our records

(Fig. 5). 1 – Gardez Base, Gardez, Paktia (2 May 2008), several adult individuals observed in semi-desert habitat; 2 – Waza Kwah, Paktika (6 December 2008), one adult individual in the arid habitat; 3 – Kandahar, Air Base, Kandahar (24 July 2009), adult, subadult and juvenile individuals (Fig. 7B–D) in the semi-desert habitat with bushes and burrows (Fig. 10F) near the runway; 4 – Lashkargāh, Helmand (3 September 2009), common species represented by adult and juvenile individuals in the semi-desert habitat.

Remarks

All our records represent new distribution data for the species in Afghanistan. Localities 1 and 2 are new provincial records. Observations from Kandahar are incorrectly described in Regan (2017; see pp. 32, 33) as E. fasciata (juvenile presented here in Fig. 7C) and Acathodactylus micropholis (adults and juvenile in Fig. 7B, D).

Mesalina watsonana (Stoliczka, 1872)

Distribution in Afghanistan

A common species with several records mainly from south of the Hindu Kush range. It is currently known from the following provinces: Badakhshan, Farah, Ghazni, Ghor, Helmand, Herat, Kabul, Kandahar, Khost, Logar, Nangarhar, Paktia, Paktika, Parwan, Uruzgan, Wardak and Zabul (Wagner et al. 2016; Jablonski et al. 2019; Fig. 5). Two localities mentioned by Wagner et al. (2016): “40 km NE of Kandhar, on Tarnak River (CAS 90757-60” and “Mil-Karez, Pol-Mil (MZLU L958/3230)” (p. 498) are not presented with coordinates. Therefore, they are absent from the map.

Our records

(Fig. 5). 1 – Lashkargāh, Helmand (3 September 2009), dozens of adult individuals in the semi-desert habitat; 2 – Kandahar, Air Base, Kandahar (22 October 2010), dozens of adult individuals (Fig. 7E, F) in the semi-desert with bushes near the runway.

Remarks

Both records presented here are new locality data with original coordinates. However, they clearly correspond with the known species range in Afghanistan. Regan (2017) listed this species as “Mesalina guttulata” (pp. 30–31). This name was superseded by M. watsonana after being upgraded to full species status from a subspecies of M. guttulata.

Colubridae

Hemorrhois ravergieri (Ménétriés, 1832)

Distribution in Afghanistan

This species has a scattered distribution with most of the records from the north-eastern part of the country. It is currently known from the provinces Badakhshan, Herat, Kabul, Kandahar, Kunduz, Nuristan, Paktia (Wagner et al. 2016).

Our records

(Fig. 8). 1 – Jurm, Badakhshan (5 October 2011), one adult individual (Fig. 9A) observed in the early afternoon, sunning itself on the wall of a mini-hydro power intake canal near the town. It appeared to be approx. 1.2 metres long; 2 – Camp Dubs – Kabul, Kabul (17 July 2011), one adult individual observed in rocky habitat in the vicinity of the camp.

Remarks

Both our records represent new locality data although this species is known to occur in these provinces. The record from Camp Dubs - Kabul is erroneously assigned to Daboia russelli (Shaw & Nodder, 1797) by Regan (2017; see p. 38), but that species of viper has never been recorded or mentioned in available literature as a member of fauna in Afghanistan.

Figure 8. 

Updated herpetofaunistic records from Afghanistan (white dots: Wagner et al. 2016; red dots: data of this study). Hemorrhois ravergieri: 1 – Jurm, Badakhshan; 2 – Camp Dubs - Kabul, Kabul. Spalerosophis diadema: 1 – Camp Dubs - Kabul, Kabul; 2 – Spin Boldak, Kandahar. Psammophis schokari: Camp Dubs - Kabul, Kabul.

Figure 9. 

Observed species of Colubridae and Viperidae families from Afghanistan: A – adult individual of Hemorrhois ravergieri from Jurm, Badakhshan (photo by Glyn Morris); B – subadult individual of Platyceps rhodorachis from Kandahar, Air Base, Kandahar; C – subadult individual of P. rhodorachis (striped phenotype) from Camp Mike Spann Chapel, Mazar-i-Sharif, Balkh; D – adult individual of Ptyas mucosa from Camp Dubs - Kabul, Kabul; E – subadult individual of Spalerosophis diadema from Camp Dubs - Kabul, Kabul; F – subadult individual of S. diadema from Spin Boldak, Kandahar (photo by Ron Savage); G, H – subadult and adult individual of Echis carinatus from Kandahar, Air Base, Kandahar.

Platyceps karelini (Brandt, 1838)

Distribution in Afghanistan

This species has mostly north-western distribution in the country and is currently known from the provinces Badghis, Balkh, Farah, Herat, Jowzjan, Kandahar (Wagner et al. 2016 and see therein for other unmapped records on p. 510).

Our records

Camp Marmal, Mazar-i-Sharif, Balkh (10 October 2018), one subadult individual was found dead on the street of the camp.

Remarks

This record confirmed the species’ previously known records from Mazar-i-Sharif and Balkh Province. Therefore, we did not map this record.

Platyceps rhodorachis (Jan in de Filippi, 1865)

Distribution in Afghanistan

This snake has a scattered distribution in the country, mostly around the Hindu Kush range. It is presented from the provinces Balkh, Ghazni, Helmand, Herat, Jowzjan, Kabul, Kandahar, Kunduz, Nangarhar, Nuristan, Wardak and Zabul (Wagner et al. 2016). Since records “10 km west of Jawand [“Kala-iChambar”] (SMF 67907)” and “east of Kandahar (CAS 115970)” are not georeferenced in Wagner et al. (2016; p. 511), we did not include them in the list of georeferenced datasets for this species.

Our records

1 – Camp Mike Spann Chapel, Mazar-i-Sharif, Balkh (29 May 2009 & 8 October 2010), two subadult individuals (Fig. 9C) in the area of the camp; 2 – Camp Dubs - Kabul, Kabul (17 July 2011), one subadult individual observed in the rocky habitat in the area of the camp; 3 – Kandahar, Air Base, Kandahar (28 April 2009), two subadult individuals (Fig. 9B) observed in the desert habitat with bushes near the runway.

Remarks

All our data correspond with previous records of the species from close localities and particular provinces. Therefore, we did not map these records. This species is described correctly in Regan (2017) on p. 40 but incorrectly on p. 46 (both photos; Camp Dubs - Kabul, Kabul) as “Hemorrhios ravergieri” (this version uses the wrong genus name).

Ptyas mucosa (Linnaeus, 1758)

Distribution in Afghanistan

This species is known from several scattered records across the country (provinces Badghis, Faryab, Herat, Kabul, Kandahar, Logar, Nuristan, Wardak; Wagner et al. 2016). Wagner et al. (2016) mentioned a record from locality “Kamu (13325-26)” (p. 511) but did not present georeferenced data. The coordinates should be 35.4002N, 71.4239E, Nuristan Prov.

Our records

Camp Dubs - Kabul, Kabul (13 October 2010), one adult individual (Fig. 9D) found 50 m outside the barrier of the camp in the bushy habitat.

Remarks

Wagner et al. (2016) presented the species occurrence in Kabul and its vicinity. Therefore, we did not map this record. The observation is correctly mentioned in Regan (2017) on pp. 42–43.

Spalerosophis diadema (Schlegel, 1837)

Distribution in Afghanistan

The distribution pattern of this species is divided into two main parts with desert or semi-desert habitats: the northern (provinces Herat, Faryab) and south-eastern (Kabul, Kandahar, Nangarhar). For details and other general locality data, see Wagner et al. (2016; p. 512).

Our records

(Fig. 8). 1 – Camp Dubs - Kabul, Kabul (25 June 2011), one adult individual (Fig. 9E) found a 20-minute walk from the camp in rocky habitat; 2 – Spin Boldak, Kandahar (20 November 2010), one subadult individual (Fig. 9F) found in the desert area of the camp.

Remarks

Our records correspond with the known or possible range of the species. Record 2 from Kandahar Province is the first exact record of the species from the southern part of the country and this province. The record from “Nushki to Helmand” has imprecise locality data (Wagner et al. 2016) and is most likely located in the southern part of Kandahar province. The record from Camp Dubs - Kabul was erroneously assigned to Lytorhynchus ridgewayi Boulenger, 1887 by Regan (2017; see p. 47). This species of Lytorhynchus is known in Afghanistan from only two localities of the western and south-western part of the country (provinces Herat, Kandahar).

Psammophis schokari (Forskål, 1775)

Distribution in Afghanistan

This snake has a scattered distribution in Afghanistan and situated mainly in the southern and south-eastern regions (Farah, Helmand, Kandahar, Laghman, Nimroz, Wardak; Wagner et al. 2016).

Our records

(Fig. 8). Camp Dubs - Kabul, Kabul (3 May 2011), one adult individual observed in the bushy semi-desert habitat of the camp.

Remarks

Our record is the first for Kabul province. The observation is correctly mentioned in Regan (2017; pp. 44–45, photos of the specimen are from Saudi Arabia but low quality photos are available also from Kabul, see Suppl. material 1).

Viperidae

Echis carinatus (Schneider, 1801)

Distribution in Afghanistan

This species has been recorded from various parts of Afghanistan (provinces Balkh, Farah, Helmand, Herat, Kandahar, Nangarhar, Nimroz; Wagner et al. 2016). These authors also mentioned a record at “Sistan [Faizabad Prov.] (ZMUC R-6838)”, p. 516. This record is probably incorrect as there is no Faizabad Prov. in Afghanistan and the city Faizabad (Fayzabad) is in Badakhshan Prov. (eastern Afghanistan). Moreover, the coordinates provided by authors in the Appendix 1 are the same as for locality “Seistan [=Sistan area near Iran border]”, p. 556 (western Afghanistan). Thus, potential distribution in Badakhshan needs future clarification.

Our records

Kandahar, Air Base, Kandahar (27 March 2009), adult, subadult and juvenile individuals of both sexes (Fig. 9G, H) in the desert habitat with bushes near the runway.

Remarks

This species is known from Kandahar city and its vicinity and our record corresponds with previous records presented by Wagner et al (2016). Therefore, we did not map this record.

Figure 10. 

View on selected localities from Afghanistan that were visited: A – habitat of Bufotes viridis complex and Euphlyctis cyanophlyctis from Kandahar, Air Base, Kandahar; B – stony, semi-desert habitat of Eremias aff. nigrocellata from Kaldar, Balkh; C – semi-desert habitat of Trapelus agilis from Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan; D – vicinity of small village Waza Kwah, Paktika as habitat of Testudo horsfieldii; E – desert habitat of Cyrtopodion agamuroides complex from Camp Leatherneck, Washir, Helmand; F – burrows in semi-desert habitat that were used by Eremias persica as a shelter, Kandahar, Air Base, Kandahar.

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Aaron M. Bauer, Nasser Halaweh, Muazzam Ali Khan, Spartak Litvinchuk, Glib Mazepa, Glyn Morris, Roman Nazarov, Ron Savage, Beat Schätti and Jiří Šmíd for their help or opinion concerning species identification or for providing some additional herpetofaunistic data. We also thank Coleman M. Sheehy III for his help with photo voucher numbers associated with the collection of the Florida Museum of Natural History, USA. Special thanks belong to Steven C. Anderson and Philipp Wagner for their valuable review and Thomas Ruttig for his suggestions to abstracts in Pashto and Dari. This work was supported by the Slovak Research and Development Agency under contract no. APVV-15-0147. We dedicate this work to the Afghan people.

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