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VietNamNews

Species emerge in Mekong region, but battle to survive

Update: December, 24/2012 - 10:49

HCM CITY (VNS)— A new bat named after its devilish appearance, a "walking" catfish, and a frog that sings like a bird are among the 36 species newly identified by scientists in Viet Nam, and among 126 species in the Greater Mekong region in 2011.

But many of these species are locked in a struggle for survival, warns Extra Terrestrial, a report by the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).

One of the species highlighted in the report is the "aptly named Beelzebub's tube-nosed bat, a diminutive but demonic-looking creature" known only in Viet Nam.

Beelzebub's bat, like two other tube-nosed bats discovered in 2011, depends on tropical forest for its survival and is especially vulnerable to deforestation.

In just four decades, 30 per cent of the Greater Mekong's forests have disappeared, the report says.

"While the 2011 discoveries affirm the Mekong basin as a region of astonishing biodiversity, many new species are already struggling to survive in shrinking habitats," said Nick Cox, Manager of the WWF-Greater Mekong's Species Programme.

A new ‘walking' catfish species (Clarias gracilentus), discovered in freshwater streams on the Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc, can move across land using its pectoral fins to stay upright while it wiggles forward with snake-like movements.

A new species of tree frog discovered in the high-altitude forests of northern Viet Nam has a complex call that makes it sound more like a bird than a typical frog, the report says.

"While most male frogs attract females with repetitive croaks, Quang's tree frog spins a new tune each time. No two calls are the same, and each individual mixes clicks, whistles and chirps in a unique order," it says.

"When it comes to frogs in the genus Leptobrachium, the eyes have it. Among its more than 20 species, there is a remarkable variety of eye colouration. Leptobrachium leucops, discovered in 2011 in the wet evergreen and cloud forest in Southern Viet Nam, is distinguished by its striking black and white eyes."

The report notes that as many as 21 reptiles were also newly discovered in 2011, including the ruby-eyed green pit viper (Trimeresurus rubeus) in forests near HCM City.

"This new jewel of the jungle also winds its way along the low hills of southern Viet Nam and through eastern Cambodia's Lang Bian Plateau," it says.

Other species found in Laos, Thailand and Myanmar are also identified in the report.

Extra Terrestrial spotlights 10 species newly identified by science, among the 82 plants, 13 fish, 21 reptiles, five amphibians and 5 mammals all discovered in 2011 within the Greater Mekong region of Southeast Asia that spans Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam and the south-western Chinese province of Yunnan.

Since 1997, an incredible 1,710 new species were newly described by science in the Greater Mekong, it noted. —VNS

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