Friday, September 25, 2009

New Mekong species at risk from climate change: WWF

Agence France-Presse: Scientists discovered 163 new species in Southeast Asia's Greater Mekong region last year, but all are at risk of extinction due to climate change, the WWF said in a report released Friday. The newly discovered creatures include a bird-eating frog with fangs, a bird that would rather walk than fly and a gecko whose alien appearance inspired the report's title of "Close Encounters", the conservation group said.

The report was released ahead of major UN talks on climate change in Bangkok next week, which are being held before a make-or-break summit in Copenhagen this December. "Some species will be able to adapt to climate change, many will not, potentially resulting in massive extinctions," Stuart Chapman, director of the WWF Greater Mekong Programme, said in the report.

"Rare, endangered and endemic species like those newly discovered are especially vulnerable because climate change will further shrink their already restricted habitats," he said.

The new discoveries in 2008 include 100 plants, 28 fish, 18 reptiles, 14 amphibians, two mammals and a bird, the WWF report said. The area spans Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and China's Yunnan province. Among the new species is the bird-eating fanged frog, which remained hidden in a protected area of Thailand despite the fact that scientists were studying there for 40 years, the report said….

A leopard gecko, not the same species just discovered, shot by Jerome66, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License

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