Human Interest

Monkey with white eye circles among 224 species discovered in Greater Mekong

Bangkok, Jan 26 (EFE).- A monkey with broad white rings around its eyes, a devil-horned newt and the world’s first succulent bamboo are among the 224 new species of fauna and flora discovered in the Greater Mekong region in 2020, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said on Wednesday.

In its annual report, which was not released last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the conservation group highlights the discovery of a new mammal, 35 reptiles, 17 amphibians, 16 fishes and 155 plants and trees in this area of rich biodiversity that includes Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

“The Greater Mekong is still a frontline of discovery, but these findings highlight that we are losing by destroying the natural environment and engaging in unsustainable wildlife trade,” WWF said, noting that 3,000 new species have been discovered in the region since 1997.

Some of these species could already be under threat, including the new monkey found in the central plain of Myanmar, according to ecologists.

Between 200-250 specimens of this new species are believed to be spread over four remote locations.

This mammal, named Popa Langur in reference to the extinct Mt. Popa volcano, is also threatened by hunting and deforestation for the timber industry and the expansion of agriculture.

The first evidence of this species was not discovered in the wild but among the bones collected more than a century ago and found in the Natural History Museum in the United Kingdom.

A genetic analysis to compare the recently collected bones with the specimens at the museum showed that both samples matched.

Two main distinguishing features of this new specimen, captured using camera traps in 2018, are broad white rings around its eyes and front-pointing whiskers.

“We must work together – and quickly – to conserve the wildlife and habitat that make our region unique, ensuring new species continue to be discovered,” the environmental group said. EFE

na/pd/lds

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