Nearly 700 new wildlife species found in South-East Asia, says biodiversity centre in the Philippines

Image from Philippine daily Inquirer/ANN

MANILA, Philippines (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN): Almost 700 new wildlife species were discovered in South-East Asia from 2020 to early 2024, according to the Asean Centre for Biodiversity (ACB).

The ACB is an intergovernmental organization that goals to promote the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.

On Saturday, the ACB said that among the 700 new wildlife species were 28 herps (snakes, lizards, and frogs) and 348 insects (16 butterflies, 322 beetles, and 10 ants), among others.

“From 2023 up to early this year, new discoveries continue to increase – fueling our passion to innovate and optimise the use of technology for wildlife identification, monitoring, and protection,” it said in a statement released in time for the celebration of World Wildlife Day on March 3.

The theme for this year’s World Wildlife Day is “Connecting People and Planet: Exploring Digital Innovation in Wildlife Conservation.”

The ACB noted that in Mindanao alone, three new plant and animal species were discovered.

These were plants Begonia fritschiana (begonia) in Bukidnon, Pinalia campanulata (orchid) from Mount Busa Key Biodiversity Area in South Cotabato, and Corybas hamiguitanensis (helmet orchid) in Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary in Davao Oriental.

“Moreover, the newest species of turtle in the world was found in Davao City. Gymnures (Podogymnura intermedia and P. minima), known as hairy hedgehogs or moonrats, were discovered during a field survey in the northern Mindanao, Philippines, a new record for the area,” the ACB said.

Additionally, Hipposideros kingstonae, belonging to a species known as roundleaf bats, was discovered in Thailand and Malaysia while a new species of crocodile known as Tylototriton ngoclinhensis was found in Vietnam, according to ACB.

“A diminutive new species of palm (Pinanga subterranea) was likewise discovered growing on forest floors throughout Borneo, and in Thailand, a new species of electric blue tarantula (Chilobrachys natanicharum) was found in Thai mangroves,” it added.

Other new discoveries include a “semi-slug” species (Microparmarion sallehi) in northern Borneo; a water snake (Hypsiscopus indonesiensis) described as a “flat-tailed water snake” in Indonesia; and the Ayeyarwady pit viper (Trimeresurus ayeyarwadyensis) in Myanmar.

The ACB stressed that continued discovery, identification, and documentation of new species would help improve the public’s comprehension of the natural world and may lead to medical advancements.

It could also help boost food security, reduce poverty, and improve climate resilience, it added. - Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN

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