A seven meter tall carnivorous plant, a fish with vampire fangs, and a frog that sounds like a cricket are among 145 new species described last year in the Greater Mekong, reaffirming the region as a one of the most significant biological hotspots on the planet ahead of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Nagoya, Japan.
New Blood: Greater Mekong new species discoveries 2009, reveals an average of three new species recorded by science each week including Asia’s only bald songbird the Bare-faced bulbul and the uniquely adapted Sucker-fish, which uses its body to sucker onto rocks in fast flowing waters to move upstream.
“This rate of discovery is simply staggering in modern times,” said Stuart Chapman, Conservation Director of WWF Greater Mekong. “Each year, the new species count keeps going up, and with it, so too does the responsibility to ensure this region’s unique biodiversity is conserved,” he said.
The report says while these discoveries highlight the Greater Mekong’s immense biodiversity it also pinpoints the fragility of this region’s diverse habitats and species. The likely local extinction of the Javan rhino in Vietnam is one tragic indicator of the decline of biodiversity in recent times.
Other new species standouts that were discovered in this region that comprises Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the southern province of Yunnan in China include five new mammal species, two bats and three shrews, a poisonous pit viper and an entirely new genus of fang-less snake.
The report highlights the opportunity for governments of the Greater Mekong to use financing through the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the global financing mechanism for the CBD, to leverage large-scale resources to conserve species, biodiversity and healthy ecosystems across the region.
“Biodiversity is not evenly distributed around the globe. These new species are a timely reminder of the extraordinary biodiversity in the Greater Mekong,” said Mr Chapman. “Therefore a greater allocation of funds is needed to ensure these valuable ecosystems are conserved.”
At the CBD, WWF will promote opportunities for the Global Environment Facility to provide financing for a trans-boundary programme in the Greater Mekong that recognizes the role of biodiversity and healthy ecosystems.