Hundreds of new animal species have been found in Asia’s remote Mekong region, say scientists, due to the inaccessibility of humans and other animals in the mountainous area. Not only new animal species, but also new plant species have been found, reported the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in May 2023.
The greater Mekong region is a forested mountain area around the Mekong River that separates the countries Laos and Thailand, and also covers areas in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Myanmar. It has no roads, making it remote and inaccessible to humans.
Scientists from universities, research institutes, and conservation organizations have, to date, found 290 new plants, 19 new fish, 24 amphibians (such as frogs), 46 reptiles (such as snakes), and one mammal (a bat).
K. Yoganand, a conservation biologist and wildlife ecologist with WWF told ABC News that the evergreen mountainous forests with high rainfall are rich with animals.
Some of the new animal species include the Khoi’s Mossy Frog that is camouflaged to look like a lichen-covered stone, and a Suzhen’s Krait which is a venomous snake. In the Tenasserim Mountains at the border of Myanmar and Thailand, scientists found a Bent-Toed Gecko and a semi-aquatic snake which they called the Hebius terrakarenorum.
In addition to new species, scientists determined that some were sub-species of already-known animals living in other areas of the Mekong region. In Cambodia, they found a Blue-Crested Agama near an Angkor era archeological site, which is a sub-species of an existing lizard.
Truong Nguyen, a researcher with the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources at the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology said that ‘there needs to be more concerted, science-based, and urgent efforts from governments, non-government organizations, and the public to reverse the rapid biodiversity loss in the Mekong region.’
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
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