From: Felicity Carus, The Guardian UK
Published August 10, 2009 09:52 AM

Flying frogs and the world's oldest mushroom: a decade of Himalayan discovery

A pretty ultramarine blue flower which changes colour in response to temperature, a flying frog and the world's oldest mushroom preserved in amber are among the 350 new species discovered in the Eastern Himalayas over the past 10 years. But experts warn the new discoveries are under pressure from demand for land and climate change.

A report published today by the WWF, The Eastern Himalayas — Where Worlds Collide, lists 242 new types of plants, 16 amphibians, 16 reptiles, 14 fish, two birds and two mammals and 61 new invertebrates. The cache, quality and diversity of species newly discovered between 1998 and 2008 make the mountainous region one of the world's most important biological hotspots.

The WWF is asking the governments of Bhutan, India and Nepal to commit to cooperate on conservation efforts in the geographic region that transcends the borders of the three countries to protect the landscape and the livelihoods of people living in the Eastern Himalayas.

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Population growth, deforestation, overgrazing, poaching, the wildlife trade, mining, pollution, and hydropower development have all contributed to the pressures on the fragile ecosystems in the region, the report says. Only 25% of the original habitats in the region remain intact and 163 species that live in the Eastern Himalayas are considered globally threatened.

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