Over 220 new species discovered in Thailand and Mekong region

The natural richness and diversity of Thailand and its neighbors in the Mekong River region is greater than deemed. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) announced last week that over 220 new species of plants and animals had been discovered in the region, underlining its importance for the planet.

The WWF said that the discoveries showed the area is rich in wildlife diversity and emphasized the continuous need to protect species and habitats. The Mekong subregion spans Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam. It is named after the Mekong River that cuts through all the countries.

A total of 224 new species have been discovered in what WWF is now calling a wildlife “hotspot.” They include 155 new plant species, 16 fish species, 17 amphibians, 35 reptiles, and one mammal. A new type of monkey, a big-headed frog and a knobbly newt were among the new finds.

The new monkey, a Popa langur monkey, is expected to be listed as critically endangered.

“The Greater Mekong region is no doubt a world heavyweight contender for species discoveries,” said Yoganand Kandasamy, WWF Greater Mekong’s Wildlife Lead. “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.”

At the same time, Thailand’s Zoological Park Organization said that it has been having success in increasing the population of cranes in the Kingdom. Sarus cranes (more commonly known as “Thai cranes”), were almost extinct 50 years ago but have made a strong recovery with the help of local conservationists. In 2021, 133 were released into nature.

Photo courtesy of: https://www.linkedin.com/company/wwf-thailand