A Jungle of Discovery: Almost 700 Species Found in Southeast Asia in Last Four Year

A Jungle of Discovery: Almost 700 Species Found in Southeast Asia in Last Four Year

Despite centuries of in-depth taxonomic research, only a small fraction of the approximately two million species of animals, plants, and microbes have been discovered by scientists. Imagine, however, that there are still more than 30 million species waiting to be discovered by the scientific community.

From 2020 to early 2024, almost 700 new wildlife species have been successfully identified in the Southeast Asian region. According to the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity (ACB), these include 28 species of herpetofauna, including snakes, lizards, and frogs, and 348 species of insects, including 16 species of butterflies, 322 beetles, and 10 ants.

The ICB is an intergovernmental organization that promotes the sustainable conservation and use of biological resources.

In its statement released on World Wildlife Day (March 3), ACB revealed that there has been a significant increase in the discovery of new species from 2023 to the beginning of this year. This fuels the spirit to continue to innovate and optimize technology in the process of wildlife identification, monitoring, and conservation.

These fascinating discoveries are scattered throughout the ASEAN region. One is the discovery of the first helmet orchid species, Corybas hamiguitanensis, found in the Mount Hamiguitan Wildlife Sanctuary, an ASEAN Heritage Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site in Davao Oriental, Philippines. There is also the discovery of the diminutive new species of palm (Pinanga subterranea) growing on the forest floor in various regions of Borneo and Thailand, along with many other fascinating discoveries yet to be revealed.

Among the newly discovered fauna species is Hipposideros kingstonae, a species of round-leaf bat successfully identified in the Malay Peninsula and Malaysia. Also discovered is the new species of electric blue tarantula (Chilobrachys natanicharum) in the mangroves of Thailand, as well as the "semi-slug" species (Microparmarion sallehi) found in the lowland rainforests of northern Borneo. Not to be overlooked is the flat-tailed water snake (Hypsiscopus indonesiensis) identified in Indonesia, along with several other intriguing discoveries yet to be revealed.

ACB emphasizes that the ongoing process of discovering, identifying, and documenting new species not only enriches the public's knowledge of the natural world but also has the potential to make significant advances in the field of medicine. It can also help improve food security, reduce poverty and build resilience to climate change.

These discoveries underscore the richness of the Earth's biodiversity and the urgent need for continued research and conservation efforts. They reinforce the call for global cooperation and support in policy, funding and public awareness to ensure that newly discovered species and their ecosystems are preserved for future generations.

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