70 new species discovered in Mekong including world’s second largest insect

Published on : Friday, June 12, 2015

70 new species discovered in MekongThe World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said 70 new species of animals and plants were discovered in Mekong region last year, Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported.


An annual report titled “Magical Mekong” released by WWF-Vietnam said among the animal species are a bat with nightmarish fangs (Hypsugo dolichodon), the world’s second longest insect (Phryganistria heusii yentuensis) and a colour-changing thorny frog (Graciaxal lumarius).


The 70 species represent more than half of the 139 species found in the Greater Mekong region.


The 139 species consist of 90 types of plants, 23 reptiles, 16 amphibians, nine species of fish and one mammal.


These include a crocodile newt (Tylototriton shanorum) in Myanmar, a “soul-sucking” wasp (Sirindhornia chaipattana) in Thailand, a wolf snake (Lycodon zoosvictoriae) in Cambodia, and the world’s 10,000th reptile (Cyrtodactylus vilaphong) in Laos.


The world’s second-largest insect, a stick insect measuring 54 cm, was found less than a kilometre away from a village in northern Vietnam.


“We’ve only skimmed the surface of new discoveries in the Greater Mekong,” said WWF global species programme director Carlos Drews.


“While species are being discovered, intense pressures are taking a terrible toll on the region’s species. One wonders how many species have disappeared before they were even discovered,” he said.


Challenges include a proposed new border crossing and road in Cambodia’s Mondulkiri Protected Forest, two unsustainable dams in Laos, rising deforestation rates and illegal poaching.


A commitment to protecting key wildlife habitat is crucial with countries cooperating across borders to make sustainable decisions on matters such as where to construct large roads and dams.


“In our next five-year strategy, WWF-Vietnam will work to ensure effective conservation, sustainable management and climate change resilience in the country,” said WWF-Vietnam country director Dr. Van Ngoc Thinh.

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