Last year in the Greater Mekong region of South East Asia, a whopping 139 new species were discovered by scientists, including a half-meter-long stick insect and a cute color-changing thorny tree frog (pictured above).
Also amongst these discoveries were four moths, which have been named after Thai princesses, a “dementor” wasp with paralytic venom named after the evil creatures from the Harry Potter series, and a bent-toed gecko, which has the esteemed honor of being the 10,000th reptile to be recorded on Earth.
Photo Credit: WWF/Cyrtodactylus vilaphongi
Covering Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, the Greater Mekong has been the discovery site of 16 amphibians, nine fish, 90 plants and 23 reptiles last year, bringing the grand total number of species found there between 1997 and 2014 up to 2,214.
Unfortunately, many of these species are now under threat from habitat loss, poaching or the illegal wildlife trade. “As Magical Mekong [report] reveals, the scientists behind these discoveries feel they are racing against the clock to document them and strongly advocate for their protection before they disappear,” said Teak Seng, conservation director for WWF-Greater Mekong, to the Guardian.
Photo Credit: Jerome Constant/WWF. Definitely not a twig, it's a huge stick insect or Phryganistria Heusii Yentuensis.
Indeed, the long-toothed pipistrelle bat found amongst last year’s discoveries faces more of its habitat being destroyed by dam construction and increased quarrying in Laos.
“While species are being discovered, intense pressures are taking a terrible toll on the region’s species,” said Carlos Drews, WWF global species program director, speaking to the Guardian. “One wonders how many species have disappeared before they were even discovered.”