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Published March 31, 2010 11:13 AM

Camouflage expert discovered in Cambodia

Researchers have discovered a cryptic species of gecko in the Cardamom Mountains of Cambodia, reports Fauna & Flora International (FFI), a conservation group that operates in the region.

The new species, named Cnemaspis neangthyi after Neang Thy, a Cambodian conservationist, was first collected during a field survey led by Dr Lee Grismer of La Sierra University in 2007. It is characterized by a broad flattened head and cryptic coloration that helps it blend in with rock surfaces and tree trunks.

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Neang, who runs FFI’s Cardamom Mountains Research Group and works for Cambodia's Ministry of Environment, said the discovery highlights the need to study and protect the Cardamom region, a biodiversity trove that is under threat from agriculture, fire, and illegal logging.

"Maybe this [discovery] will also help to involve Cambodian people more in the conservation of species, landscapes and habitats," he said in a statement. "If we do not do this, many animals in Cambodia may soon become extinct and we will not be able to show them to our children."

The Cardamom Mountains region has been named a Global Biodiversity Hotspot and is home to at least 62 globally threatened animal and 17 globally threatened tree species. According to FFI, the Greater Cardamoms cover over 2 million hectares of forest, making it one of the largest remaining blocks of evergreen forest in Southeast Asia.

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