Nearly 400 species only just discovered in Asia’s Greater Mekong region could soon become extinct due to loss of habitat caused by human activity, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) warned in a report published Monday.
The discoveries – including an orchid that looks like a “Muppet Show” character – were made by an international team of scientists and researchers working across five countries in the vast biodiverse region during a two-year period from 2021 to 2022.
“These remarkable species may be new to science but they have survived and evolved in the Greater Mekong region for millions of years, reminding us humans that they were there a very long time before our species moved into this region,” said K. Yoganand, WWF’s Greater Mekong regional wildlife lead.
“We have an obligation to do everything to stop their extinction and protect their habitats and help their recovery.”
In total, scientists discovered 290 plants, 19 fish species, 24 amphibians, 46 reptiles and one mammal according to the WWF’s report, bringing the number of vascular plants, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals described in the Greater Mekong region since 1997 to nearly 4,000.
But while the discoveries underline the rich biodiversity of the region, which is home to more than 300 million people and encompasses Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, China, Cambodia and Vietnam, it also serves to highlight the rising threats posed to wildlife by human-driven habit encroachment…