1,000 Species Discovered in Greater Mekong in Last Decade

Posted on December 22, 2008  Comments (3)

photo of Gumprechts Green PitviperPhotograph of Gumprechts Green Pitviper courtesy Greater Mekong Programme/WWF International

While most species were discovered in the largely unexplored jungles and wetlands, some were first found in the most surprising places. The Laotian rock rat, for example, thought to be extinct 11 million years ago, was first encountered by scientists in a local food market, while the Siamese Peninsula pitviper was found slithering through the rafters of a restaurant in Khao Yai National Park in Thailand.

“This region is like what I read about as a child in the stories of Charles Darwin,” said Dr Thomas Ziegler, Curator at the Cologne Zoo. “It is a great feeling being in an unexplored area and to document its biodiversity for the first time… both enigmatic and beautiful,” he said.

The findings, highlighted in this report, include 519 plants, 279 fish, 88 frogs, 88 spiders, 46 lizards, 22 snakes, 15 mammals, 4 birds, 4 turtles, 2 salamanders and a toad. The region comprises the six countries through which the Mekong River flows including Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the southern Chinese province of Yunnan. It is estimated thousands of new invertebrate species were also discovered during this period, further highlighting the region’s immense biodiversity.

“It doesn’t get any better than this,” said Stuart Chapman, Director of WWF’s Greater Mekong Programme. “We thought discoveries of this scale were confined to the history books. This reaffirms the Greater Mekong’s place on the world map of conservation priorities.”

The report stresses economic development and environmental protection must go hand-in-hand to provide for livelihoods and alleviate poverty, and ensure the survival of the Greater Mekong’s astonishing array of species and natural habitats.

Full press release. I am a World Wildlife Fund member.

Related: First Contact in the Greater Mekong (8 Mb pdf) – Massive Gorilla Population Found2,000 Species New to Science from One IslandGiant Star Fish and More in AntarcticaHuge Ant NestWhy the Frogs Are Dying

3 Responses to “1,000 Species Discovered in Greater Mekong in Last Decade”

  1. Sean Nash
    December 22nd, 2008 @ 10:43 am

    Hey John…

    Thanks for posting this. I have been in need of another really good example aside from Borneo.



  2. Anonymous
    December 27th, 2008 @ 4:02 am

    This does not surprise me, as the Mekong really is a beast of a river and still there are many areas relatively unexplored to date!

  3. Curious Cat Science Blog: New Largest Known Cave
    May 2nd, 2009 @ 8:57 am

    A British caving team believe they have discovered the world’s largest cave passage in the heart of the Vietnamese jungle…

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