Mekong region sees 224 new species, despite 'intense threat': Report

The Greater Mekong region is home to some of the world's most endangered species. PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGKOK (REUTERS) - A devil-horned newt, drought-resilient bamboo and a monkey named after a volcano were among 224 new species discovered in the Greater Mekong region in 2020, a conservation group said on Wednesday (Jan 26), despite the "intense threat" of habitat loss.

The discoveries listed in a report by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) include a new rock gecko found in Thailand, a mulberry tree species in Vietnam, and a big-headed frog in Vietnam and Cambodia that is already threatened by deforestation.

The 224 discoveries underlined the rich biodiversity of the Mekong region, which encompasses Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, and was testament to the resilience of nature in surviving in fragmented and degraded natural habitats, WWF said.

"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," said Mr K. Yoganand, WWF-Greater Mekong's regional lead for wildlife and wildlife crime.

The area is home to some of the world's most endangered species, at risk of habitat destruction, diseases from human activities and the illegal wildlife trade.

A United Nations report last year said wildlife trafficking in South-east Asia was creeping back after a temporary disruption from coronavirus restrictions, which saw countries shut borders and tighten surveillance.

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