WWF - Update - SELF-CLONING LIZARDS!, spotted Newts? & Carnivorus Plants
A new monkey, a self-cloning skink, five carnivorous plants, and a unique leaf warbler are among the 208 species newly described by science in the Greater Mekong region in 2010 and highlighted in a new WWF report.
A total of 145 plants, 28 reptiles, 25 fish, 7 amphibians, 2 mammals, and 1 bird were all discovered within the Greater Mekong region of Southeast Asia that spans Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the south-western Chinese province of Yunnan.
At the same time, the Mekong’s wild places and wildlife are under extreme pressure from rapid, unsustainable development and climate change.
This rate of discovery marks Asia’s land of rivers as one of the last frontiers for new species discoveries on our planet.
The Greater Mekong region of Southeast Asia through which the Mekong river flows comprises the countries of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and China (including Yunnan province). The region is home to some of the planet’s most endangered and charismatic wild species including tiger, Asian elephant, Mekong dolphin and Mekong giant catfish, in addition to hundreds of newly discovered species. Between 1997 and 2009 an incredible 1,376 species were discovered by science across this region alone1,2,3.
However, while these discoveries highlight the unique biodiversity of the Greater Mekong they also reveal the fragility of this region’s diverse species and habitats. The plight of the wild tiger, whose numbers have dropped by a dramatic 70 percent in a little over a decade, and the extinction of the Javan rhino in Vietnam during 2010 are urgent reminders that biodiversity is still being lost at an alarming rate from man-made pressures.
Rapid, unsustainable development and climate change impacts are profoundly affecting biodiversity and ecosystem services and consequently the millions of people who depend on them. The Greater Mekong region is warming and experiencing more extreme floods, droughts and storms as a result of shifting rainfall patterns. These changes are exacerbating agricultural expansion and unsustainable infrastructure pressures on natural ecosystems and the services they provide.
Today the Greater Mekong region is an integral part of one of the top five most threatened biodiversity hotspots in the world4.