The World Wildlife Fund recently announced that 115 new species were discovered throughout Southwest Asia in 2016. The animals and plants range over a 200-million acre are and includes the countries of Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia Laos, Myanmar and China. Of the newly discovered species, 88 of them were plants. The rest of the discoveries broke down as follows:
- 11 amphibians
- 11 reptiles
- 2 fish
- 3 mammals
Since 1997, 2,524 new species have been discovered in this part of the world. That’s a pretty remarkable pace in terms of discoveries. In fact, if you do the math it equates to approximately two new species being discovered each week. This speaks volumes to just how important the Greater Mekong Region is to the world’s bio-diversification.
The region isn’t without threats though, and these include illegal poaching and animal trade, as well as habitat destruction from mining, dams, and roads. The World Wildlife Fund is working to develop legislation that would increase border security to prevent illegal trading. The unfortunate truth is that collectors are willing to pay pretty high prices to get their hands on the world’s rarest animals, and this threatens the species.
Here are six of the more notable species that were discovered in 2016.
Vietnamese Crocodile Lizard
This reptile can be found in the forests of both Northern Vietnam and China. It’s estimated that less than 200 of these lizards are alive today, mainly due to illegal trade and habitat destruction.
Two new species of mole were also discovered: the Euroscaptor Orlovi and Euroscaptor Kuznetsova. These animals have actually managed to thrive in the Mekong region because they spend a good portion of their time underground, safe from poachers.
This new species of loach (schistura kampucheensis), was discovered in a stream in Cambodia’s Bokor National Park. This particular loach prefers streams instead of rivers, so scientists are hopeful that it will remain fairly undisturbed.
Mountain Horseshoe Bat
This bat was actually discovered more than a decade ago, but it took until 2016 to perform the necessary tests to determine that it was a new species. Habitat destruction has made this animal extremely rare. It can only be found in forests around Laos and Thailand.
A new multi-colored frog, named odorrana mutschmanni was found in the karst forests of North Vietnam. Scientists believe there are many more frog species to be found, but road construction is destroying much of the habitat those discoveries are likely to be made.
What makes this species so unique is that it wasn’t discovered in a stream or river. It was found in various street markets throughout Thailand.