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David Bradfield – The Guardian News – Thursday January 2, 2014 (originally published 31 Dec)

Band-e-Amir lake in Afghanistan

The Band-e Amir lake in Afghanistan Photograph: Massoud Hossaini/AFP/Getty Images

It took 62 years for women rangers to achieve equal status with their male peers in the US National Park Service: in Afghanistan, it has taken just three. In a landmark event for Afghanistan, four women were recently hired as park rangers in the country’s Band-e-Amir National Park – the first female park rangers ever employed in the nation.

Band-e-Amir is Afghanistan’s only national park. Established in 2009 with the help of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), it is one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes and has been nominated as a World Heritage site. The park’s six deep-blue crystal clear lakes are a surprising tourist draw in the country. Over 4,000 visitors a month come to the park in the summer, with the same number in just one weekend in some holiday periods.

The park is particularly popular among women from all over Afghanistan as a recreational area and for the reputed therapeutic properties of the water. It is also home to a number of rare and endangered species, including the recently re-discovered Persian leopard. . .

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