New Mekong Treasures (The Straits Times, 17 December 2011)


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New Mekong Treasures
The Straits Times
17th December 2011

On average, one new species of plants and animals was found every two days last year in the Greater Mekong region. The 208 species discovered included a new monkey, a wolf snake and a self-cloning lizard, the World Wide Fund for Nature said this week. A highly threated biodiversity hot spot in the world, the region is home to endangered species like the tiger and Mekong dolphin.

Orchid (Dendrobium daklakense)
Where: Dak Lak province of Vietnam
An orchid with thick glossy white and orange flowers discovered by locals in a remote area. Newly identified after a local plant hunter handed it to orchid experts in England.
145 Newly described plant species in 2010.

‘Gherkin’ Fish (Schistura udomritthiruji)
Where: Southern Thailand
A fish that looks like a gherkin found in only two clear streams flowing into the Andaman Sea. Named after Thai aquarist Kamphol Udomritthiruj.
25 Newly described fish species in 2010.

‘Elvis’ Monkey (Rhinopithecus strykeri)
Where: Myanmar’s mountainous Kachin state
A black and white monkey with an Elvis-like hairstyle. Locals claim that these monkeys tuck their heads between their knees in rainy weather to avoid rain running into their upturned nonses. Likely to be critically endangered as the illustration is the only representation of a specimen so far.
2 Newly described mammal species in 2010.

Wolf Snake (Lycodon synaptor)
Where: Dongchuan, a mountainous region in China
A black snake with white bands and large fangs in both jaws. It is nocturnal and grows up to 50cm long.

Self-cloning Lizard (Leiolepis ngovantrii)
Where: Southern Vietnam
An all-female species that reproduces via cloning. Live lizards were found on sale in a restaurant in Ba Ria-Vung Tao province.
28 Newly described reptile species in 2010.

Frog (Amolops akhaorum)
Where: North-western Laos
One of the seven new frog species discovered in Laos, Vietnam and Thailand.
7 Newly described amphibian species in 2010.

Limestone Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus Calciatilis)
Where: Forests of the Annamite mountain range in Laos and Vietnam
A small greenish-olive bird with a yellow breast and striped crown. It has a loud and distinct call, which drew the attention of the scientists.
1 Newly described bird species in 2010.

Greater Mekong in Numbers
1584 new species newly identified between 1997 and 2010
300 million people depend on its rivers, forests and wetlands for food and livelihood
850 freshwater fish species live in the Mekong River
4800km long, the river runs through six countries: Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and China

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