Rule Animal National Park More Noteworthy Mekong Demonstrates an Ark of Biodiversity

More Noteworthy Mekong Demonstrates an Ark of Biodiversity



A bat with a thick thumb, a lizard with changing colors and a Muppet-like orchid are just some of the 380 new scientific species found and described in the Greater Mekong region of Southeast Asia between 2021 and 2022.

In a report published this week by the WWF, the researchers highlight the remarkable diversity of this under-studied home of life. The report documents the joint efforts of hundreds of scientists who have ventured to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam to study biodiversity in what is known as the Indo-Burmese Hotspot. They identified 290 plant species, 19 fish, 24 amphibians, 46 reptiles and one mammal species.

“These remarkable species may be new to science, but they have survived and evolved in the Greater Mekong region for millions of years, reminding us humans that they were there for a very long time before our species moved to this region,” said K. Yoganand, WWF-Greater Mekong Regional Wildlife Lead. “We are committed to doing everything we can to stop their extinction, protect their habitats and support their recovery.”

The report highlights several notable new species, including the Cambodian sapphire-crested agama (Calotes mystaceus), an aggressive lizard known for changing its color to defend itself against predators.

The Suzhen Krait (Bungarus suzhenae), an extremely venomous snake named after Bai Su Zhen, a snake goddess from a popular traditional Chinese myth, the legend of the white snake, was described in 2021.

Another discovery is the thick-winged Myotis (Myotis hayesi) of the Hayes, a bat with unique fleshy thumbs that distinguishes it as a separate species. A preserved specimen of the bat had been kept in a Hungarian museum for 20 years before being identified.

The report also mentions the Khoi moss frog (Theloderma khoii), which is named after its moss-green skin that allows it to mix with lichen and moss. In addition, scientists have described The miniature orchid Dendrobium fuscifaucium, which has bright pink and bright yellow colors reminiscent of the Muppets who sang the song “Mah na mah na”.”

However, many of these newly described species are already threatened with extinction due to human activity, which leads the WWF to demand increased protection of their habitats by regional governments.

For example, Cleyera bokorensis, an evergreen shrub, is threatened by the development of a Cambodian casino. Similarly, The Thai crocodile Newt (Tylototriton thaiorum) is threatened in Vietnam by agricultural encroachment, deforestation and its use in traditional medicine.

“To reverse the rapid loss of biodiversity in the region, more concerted, scientific and urgent efforts must be made, and conservation measures require more attention from governments, NGOs and the public,” said Truong Q. Nguyen, one of the authors of the rapport.de The Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources of the Vietnamese Academy

Nguyen stressed the need for immediate action and the introduction of advanced technologies such as bioacoustics and genetic sequencing to learn what lives in this biodiversity Hotspot.

The Greater Mekong Region is a vast territory that extends over six Asian countries: China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. The region covers an area of 81 million hectares (200 million Acres), an area about the same size as Texas and Arkansas.

Located in the heart of the region, the Mekong stretches for about 4,900 kilometers (3,000 Mi) from the Tibetan Plateau to the South China Sea. The Mekong is the largest inland fishery in the world, providing livelihoods for millions of people and accounting for up to 25% of global freshwater catches.

The region is home to emblematic animals such as Asian elephants (Elephas maximus), tigers (Panthera tigris), Sunda pangolins (Manis javanica) and giant freshwater rays (Urogymnus polylepis). Since 1997, the total number of plants, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals described in the Great Mekong has reached 3,389 species.

The rapid social and economic development of the Mekong region poses major challenges to conservation efforts. The most urgent threats to wildlife and habitats in the region include dam construction, climate change, unlawful wildlife trade and loss of natural habitats.

“Although the Mekong River region is a global biodiversity hotspot, it also faces various threats,” Nilanga Jayasinghe, WWF’s Asian species manager in the United States, said in a statement. “We must continue to invest in the protection and conservation of nature so that these great species do not disappear before we learn of their existence.”

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