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Carnivorous plant found

A 7-METRE-TALL carnivorous plant native to Kampot province was among 145 new plant and animal species officially documented last year in the Greater Mekong region, according to a report to be released today by the World Wildlife Fund.

On average, three new species are recorded by scientists each week in the region, which includes Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and China’s southern Yunnan province, the report states.

“This rate of discovery is simply staggering in modern times,” Stuart Chapman, conservation director of WWF Greater Mekong, said in a press release that accompanied the report.

“Each year, the new species count keeps going up, and with it, so too does the responsibility to ensure this region’s unique biodiversity is conserved,” he said.

Speaking by phone yesterday, he said knowledge about biodiversity in the Greater Mekong region was “on par with the rate of discovery in the Amazon”.

He said that “a greater allocation of funds is needed to ensure these valuable ecosystems are conserved”, and that the acceleration of “unsustainable development” was a major threat to species in the region.

Although the report – titled New Blood: Greater Mekong New Species Discoveries 2009 – provides details on 2009 findings, its release was delayed to coincide with the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, a three-day affair in Japan that is set to start today. The convention will be attended by potential donors from the Global Environment Facility, the financing arm of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

A total of three new plant species were discovered in Cambodia in 2009, the most impressive of which was found on Bokor mountain in Kampot and was described by Chapman as a “giant carnivorous pitcher plant”.

The report states that the plant “produces pitchers that…alone can be up to 25 centimetres in length, and are used to trap ants and other insects, which are then broken down to provide nourishment to the plant”.

Ministry of Environment and Forestry Administration officials declined to comment yesterday.

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