Three mammals, 11 amphibians, two fish, 11 reptiles and 88 plants were discovered by scientists in 2016, says WWF
A snail-eating turtle found in a food market and a bat with a horseshoe-shaped face are among 115 new species discovered in the Greater Mekong region.
A report from the conservation charity WWF reveals that three new mammals, 11 amphibians, two fish, 11 reptiles and 88 plants were found by scientists in Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand and Vietnam in 2016.
They include an extremely rare crocodile lizard, two species of mole living among a network of streams and rivers, and a vibrantly coloured frog which is one of five new species discovered in the same forest in northern Vietnam.
The snail-eating turtle was not discovered in a river or forest but in a market in north-east Thailand, having been caught in a nearby canal by shopkeepers.
The mountain horseshoe bat was found in the evergreen forests of Laos and Thailand, and has a horseshoe-shaped facial structure, the WWF said.
Many of the new finds are already threatened by habitat destruction, the creation of new infrastructure, poaching and the illegal wildlife trade, the conservation charity warned.
Stuart Chapman, WWF’s regional representative for Greater Mekong, said the discovery of “more than two new species a week, and 2,500 in the past 20 years, speaks to how incredibly important the Greater Mekong is.
Illegal wildlife markets in the region operated “with impunity in open view” so it was critical that governments improved enforcement against poaching and closed the markets, he said.
Among the new species documented in the report are:
- A mountain horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus monticolus ), found in the forests of mountainous Laos and Thailand. It took 10 years to determine it was a new species, with a horseshoe-shaped facial structure, known as a noseleaf.
- A Vietnamese crocodile lizard (Shinisaurus crocodilurus vietnamensis), which lives in freshwater and forest habitats of south China and northern Vietnam. It is threatened by habitat destruction, coal-mining and collection as a pet As few as 200 could remain in Vietnam. A comic-strip character has been created to explain to children the importance of protecting it.
A snail-eating turtle (Malayemys isan) was identified in a market in north-east Thailand. It is threatened by infrastructure, such as dikes and dams, and needs to be protected under Thai law, conservationists said.
- Two moles (Euroscaptor orlovi and Euroscaptor kuznetsovi) were discovered in a network of streams and rivers in northern Vietnam. It is thought they can maintain stable populations and escape poachers because they live underground in protected areas.
- A vibrantly coloured frog (Odorrana mutschmanni) is threatened by quarrying for cement and road construction. The frog’s karst forest home needs new protection, the WWF said.
- A loach (Schistura kampucheensis) fish from Cambodia with striking black and brown stripes on its elongated body.
- A frog and four plant species from Myanmar, which is opening up to scientific exploration with expectations it could be home to hundreds of undiscovered species.
Source: The Guardian