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More than 220 new animal and plant species discovered in Greater Mekong, WWF says

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A monkey, a big-headed frog, and a knobbly newt are among 224 new species that have been discovered in a wildlife “hotspot”.

A total of 155 plants, 16 fish species, 17 amphibians, 35 reptiles, and one mammal have been found in the Greater Mekong region of southeast Asia, conservation charity WWF has said.

The discoveries showed the area, which spans Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam, is rich in wildlife diversity but also highlighted the need to protect species and habitats from being lost, the organisation added.

Among the unusual finds was a Popa langur monkey, which is expected to be listed as critically endangered.

Embargoed to 0001 Wednesday January 26 Undated handout photo issued by WWF of a Popa langur, one of the 224 new species that have been found in the Greater Mekong area. A report from conservation charity WWF said the unusual finds in the region of Southeast Asia showed it was a "hotspot" for wildlife diversity but also highlighted the threats they faced and the need to protect species and habitats from being lost. Issue date: Wednesday January 26, 2022.
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A Popa langur has been discovered

About 200 to 250 of the langurs are thought to be living in the wild in four isolated locations and are threatened by hunting, habitat loss, agriculture, and timber extraction.

The first evidence of the primates’ existence was collected from specimens more than a century ago, which are now featured at London’s Natural History Museum.

What other species were found?

An orange-brown knobbly newt with a racing stripe down its back, which was first spotted in a 20-year-old photo, was found in Thailand, along with an orange and grey rock gecko.

Embargoed to 0001 Wednesday January 26 Undated handout photo issued by WWF of a newt from Thailand with a racing stripe, Tylototriton phukhaensis, one of the 224 new species that have been found in the Greater Mekong area. A report from conservation charity WWF said the unusual finds in the region of Southeast Asia showed it was a "hotspot" for wildlife diversity but also highlighted the threats they faced and the need to protect species and habitats from being lost. Issue date: Wednesday Januar
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A knobbly newt has been identified in Thailand
Embargoed to 0001 Wednesday January 26 Undated handout photo issued by WWF of Thailand's San Phueng rock gecko, one of the 224 new species that have been found in the Greater Mekong area. A report from conservation charity WWF said the unusual finds in the region of Southeast Asia showed it was a "hotspot" for wildlife diversity but also highlighted the threats they faced and the need to protect species and habitats from being lost. Issue date: Wednesday January 26, 2022.
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An orange and grey rock gecko was among the new species

In Vietnam and Cambodia, a big-headed frog was found and in Burma, a colourless cave-dwelling fish was discovered.

The word’s first succulent bamboo, whose stem can inflate and deflate during the dry and wet seasons, was also among the newly-found species after being identified in Laos.

A plant with a pungent odour from the ginger family that was first found in a shop in eastern Thailand, a mulberry tree from Vietnam, and a series of begonias from Laos and Burma have also been described as new species.

“They require out greatest respect”

Regional wildlife lead at WWF-Greater Mekong, Dr Yoganand Kandasamy, said more than 3,000 species have been spotted in the area in the past 24 years.

Embargoed to 0001 Wednesday January 26 Undated handout photo issued by WWF of Amomum foetidum, a plant from the ginger family, one of the 224 new species that have been found in the Greater Mekong area. A report from conservation charity WWF said the unusual finds in the region of Southeast Asia showed it was a "hotspot" for wildlife diversity but also highlighted the threats they faced and the need to protect species and habitats from being lost. Issue date: Wednesday January 26, 2022.
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A plant with a pungent odour from the ginger family was found in Thailand

She added: “The Greater Mekong region is no doubt a world heavyweight contender for species discoveries.

“These species are extraordinary, beautiful products of millions of years of evolution, but are under intense threat, with many species going extinct even before they are described.

“They require our greatest respect, utmost attention, and urgent actions to protect their habitats and minimise exploitation.”

WWF-UK’s director of science Mark Wright urged governments, who will meet for the UN global biodiversity summit later this year, to commit to halting and reversing the destruction of nature by 2030.

He added that the new findings show the “extraordinary diversity and inventiveness of nature” but also serve as a “timely reminder of the extreme jeopardy that so many of these species and habitats face.”

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