Nine species have been discovered in Cambodia in the past year, out of a total of 126 “stunning” species discovered in the greater Mekong region, according to a newly released report by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
“There is an extraordinary level of biodiversity,” Nick Cox, a program manager for the WWF-Greater Mekong Program, said. “Finding any new species is very special.”
One of the big discoveries was Trimeresurus rubeus, or the ruby-eyed green pit viper, found across southern Vietnam and eastern Cambodia.
“[It is a] particularly striking species,” said Cox, who called it “the new jewel of the jungle”.
This year, three mammals, three reptiles, two fish and a plant have been found.
Seven new species were discovered in Cambodia last year.
“It is the exploration of these new areas that leads to a nearly constant stream of scientific discovery,” Cox said.
Despite the new discoveries, Cox said, the species’ well-being was challenged by rapid development, poor infrastructure and the trade in wildlife.
The WWF named the Greater Mekong region “one of the five most threatened biodiversity hot spots in the world.”
Cambodia has 192 critically endangered, endangered, and vulnerable species, according to this year’s report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Cox called the statistics “urgent reminders” of humans‘ impact on the environment.
“Habitats must be protected against degradation and loss so that species have a chance of surviving the wide range of threats,” he said.