First Contact

Over 1000 new species discovered in the Greater Mekong in just 10 years. This volume of discoveries is one of the most prolific rates of discovery in the world!

New species discovered in the Greater Mekong rel=
New species discovered in the Greater Mekong
© René Ries
First Contact was WWF Greater Mekong's first new species report, launched in December 2008, it made worldwide headlines announcing the discovery of 1068 new species in the Greater Mekong between 1997 and 2007. This is an average of two new species discoveries each week!
Discoveries include: 519 plants, 279 fish, 88 frogs, 88 spiders, 46 lizards, 22 snakes, 15 mammals, 4 birds, 4 turtles, 2 salamanders and a toad. It is estimated thousands of new invertebrate species were also discovered during this period but there were too many to document in this report.

The First Contact report highlights the need for the region's economic development and environmental protection to go hand-in-hand. In this way providing for livelihoods and ensuring the survival of the Greater Mekong's astonishing array of species and natural habitats.

Some of the 'stars' from First Contact are:


  • Khao Yai, thought to be extinct 11 million years ago, was first encountered by scientists in a Lao food market.
     
  • Siamese Peninsula pit viper was found slithering through the rafters of a restaurant in Khao Yai National Park in Thailand.
     
  • The world’s largest huntsman spider with a leg span of 30 centimetres found in a cave in Northern Laos.
  • The hot pink coloured, “dragon millipede," produces cyanide as a defence mechanism.

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