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New bat discovery in Ratanakkiri

111031_06
The ‘Walston’s Tube-Nosed Bat’ was discovered in the Van Sai protected forest, in Ratanakkiri province, by Wildlife Conservation Society researchers.

Just in time for Halloween, a new bat has been discovered by Wildlife Conservation Society workers in Cambodia.

Colloquially named “Walston’s tube-nosed bat” after the mammal’s discoverer, biodiversity researcher Joe Walston, the species was discovered in the Veun Sai Protected Forests in Ratanakkiri province.

The Veun Sai Protected Forests are an important biodiversity conservation area and part of one of the Kingdom’s largest remaining blocks of forest.

Veun Sai is also home to Cambodian sun bears, the clouded leopard and the Kingdom’s national bird, the giant ibis – of which there are only 200 left – as well as the largest known population of gibbons in the lower Mekong.

“I am flattered and humbled to have this extremely rare species named after me,” Walston, who has worked in Cambodia for eight years, said via email.

“Important research like this confirms the richness of the region for biodiversity and increases the urgency to protect wild places while there is still time.”

Walston, the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Asia Program executive director, has  studied bats for 17 years.

He worked with fellow researchers Csorba Gabor, of the Hungarian Natural History Museum, Nguyen Truong Son, of Vietnam’s Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources, Ith Saveng, of the Royal University of Phnom Penh, and Neil Furey, of Flora and Fauna International, in discovering the new species.

Ratanakkiri province, a hub for extractive industries and commercial plantation development in Cambodia, is particularly vulnerable to border development projects in Laos and Vietnam.

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