Close Encounters

A remarkable 163 new species discoveries were made during 2008 in the jungles and rivers of the Greater Mekong!
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Cat Ba leopard gecko (Goniurosaurus catbaensis) found exclusively in Cat Ba Island National Park in northern Vietnam. This species was one of the new species discovered in the Greater Mekong region of Southeast Asia during 2008.
© Thomas Ziegler / WWF Greater Mekong
Close Encounters, the second in the series, was launched in September 2009 prior to the UN climate change talks in Bangkok, highlighting what could be lost if the threat of climate change is not urgently addressed.
Some species will be able to adapt to climate change, many will not, potentially resulting in massive extinctions. Often newly discovered species are highly dependent on a limited habitat or number of species for their survival. If their response to climate change disrupts their closely evolved relationships it will put them at greater risk of extinction.

This report cements the region’s place as one of the world’s last biological frontiers. Discoveries spotlighted include 100 plants, 28 fish, 18 reptiles, 14 amphibians, 2 mammals and a bird.


Introducing a few 'star' new species!

The bird eating fanged frog
, Limnonectes megastomias, was found at the Sakaerat Environmental Research Station in a remote protected area of Thailand, which ironically has been the subject of scientific study for 40 years. The frog’s fangs protrude from its bottom jawbone and it is known to be an opportunistic eater, lying and waiting for prey in streams. The species is known to eat birds as feathers were found in its faeces.

The leopard gecko, Goniurosaurus catbaensis, that inspired the reports title Close Encounters with its “other world” appearance was found exclusively in the Cat Ba Island National Park in northern Vietnam. It has the coloring of a leopard, complete with orange “cat-like eyes.”

The tiger-striped pitviper, Cryptelytrops honsonensis, was discovered accidentally when a gecko-seeking scientist put his hand on a rock and noticed the viper’s fangs mere inches away. The tiger-striped pitviper is thought to be endemic to Hon Son, a very small (ca. 22km2) island off the coast of Vietnam.

The ruby barb fish, Puntius padamya, a vibrantly colored red and blue fish that is highly popular in the ornamental fish trade in the Ukraine. It was thought to have been a cross-bred between two other aquarium fish, until it was found in the wild until 2008.

The Nonggang babbler
, Stachyris nonggangensis, a bird species that was found in small flocks in the Nonggang Natural Reserve in China near the Vietnamese border. Although abundant on the ground and on rocks, these birds only rarely take flight, only flying for short distances when frightened.

The treasures of nature are in trouble if governments fail to agree a fair, ambitious and binding treaty that will prevent runaway climate change.

Kathrin Gutmann, Head of Policy and Advocacy at the WWF Global Climate Initiative

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