Credit by Malayan snail eating turtle near the shore of small pond © flickr
115 New Species Found In Southeast Asia’s Mekong River
NATURE Beyond

115 New Species Found In Southeast Asia’s Mekong River

Around 115 new species have been discovered by the scientists in Southeast Asia's Mekong River region.

These bring the total number of plants, birds, mammals, reptiles, fish and amphibians discovered in the region between 1997 and 2016 to 2,524.

According to WWF, the illegal wildlife trading extends from Asia to Africa due to greater demand generated by tourists from China and Vietnam who go to markets such as in Mong La, in Myanmar, or Boten, Laos, in search of products including ivory, rhino horn or body parts of a tiger

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) announced on Tuesday (Dec 19), a crocodile lizard, a snail-eating turtle and a horseshoe bat are among the 115 new species discovered by scientists in Southeast Asia’s Mekong River region in 2016.

Malayan snail eater | Imgrum
Malayan snail eater | Imgrum

Scientists from several research institutes discovered the new species, including 11 amphibians, two fish, 11 reptiles, 88 plants and three mammals in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, reports Efe news.

The new discoveries include two-mole species and a coloured frog, found in northern Vietnam as well as a black and brown striped loach fish with a long body and bold stripes found in a Cambodian river.

Scientists find a new species of horseshoe bat from Southeast Asia by studying an old museum specimen | Pinterest
Scientists find a new species of horseshoe bat from Southeast Asia by studying an old museum specimen | Pinterest

The Guardian added more information on the new species documented in the report as follows:

• 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.

These bring the total number of plants, birds, mammals, reptiles, fish and amphibians discovered in the region between 1997 and 2016 to 2,524.

“More than two new species a week and 2,500 in the past 20 years speaks to how incredibly important the Greater Mekong is to global biodiversity,” said Stuart Chapman, WWF Greater Mekong Regional Representative, in a statement.

“While the threats to the region are many, these discoveries give us hope that species from the tiger to the turtle will survive.”

Among the threats, Chapman pointed to coal mines and the construction of dams and roads that endanger “the survival of the natural landscapes” and result in illegal animal trafficking that could make species disappear before they are even discovered.

Source: Various including The Guardian and http://www.newsx.com/offbeat/115-new-species-found-southeast-asias-mekong-river-world-wildlife-fund

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