145 New Species Recorded in Mekong Region in 2009

A carnivorous plant in Kampot province that can grow 7 meters long, a frog that sounds like a cricket and a translucent fish with fangs were among 145 new species discovered last year in the Mekong river region, the WWF said in a statement released today.

These finds demonstrate “the Greater Mekong’s immense biodiversity” and “the fragility of this re­gion’s diverse habitats and species,” according to the WWF.

Of the new species, just three were found in Cambodia, while 58 were found in Thailand. The Me­kong river region spans the area from Burma to China’s southern Yunnan province to Vietnam.

All three species found in Cam­bodia were plants, including the carnivorous Nepenthes bokorensis, which can grow up to 7 meters long and whose red, insect-trapping pitchers can themselves grow to 25 cm. Although recently “discovered” by scientists on Bokor Hill in Kam­pot province, it was already known locally: Its roots have traditionally been boiled and given to pregnant women to ease their pains.

Scientists are petitioning to add Nepenthes bokorensis to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Spec­ies because development on Bokor Hill puts the species at risk of ex­tinction, according to the WWF.

But a representative of Sokha Hotels, which is building the Bokor Mountain Resort and Casino on Bokor Hill, said construction would not affect the newly discovered plant.

Svay Vutha, assistant to Sokha Hotels owner Sok Kong, said Nep­enthes bokorensis is found on a part of the mountain away from the resort site.

“We are now trying to conserve that area and make it a natural flower garden for tourists because it has many species of natural flowers and rocks,” Mr Vutha said.

The other two plants discovered in Cambodia in 2009 were a tropical herb discovered in Ratanakkiri province and a yellow-flowered plant found in northern Cambodia and southeastern Thailand.

The frog that sounds like a cricket was heard, then found, in Viet­nam’s Quang Nam province, while the tiny fish with fangs, which only grows to a maximum of about 17 mm, was found in a small stream in Burma.

    (Additional reporting by Neou Vannarin)

 

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