211 New Species Discovered in Eastern Himalayas

The WWF Living Himalayas Initiative have released their latest discovery report, mapping out the 211 new species discovered in recent years.

The creatures were discovered in remote areas of Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal and North-East India by scientists on various expeditions and from various organisations.

According to the report, Hidden Himalayas: Asia’s Wonderland, scientists have found 133 plants, 39 invertebrates, 26 fish, 10 amphibians, one reptile, one bird and one mammal, between 2009 and 2014. This is an average of 34 new species a year!

Lance-headed pit viper, Protobothrops himalayansus

Lance-headed pit viper, Protobothrops himalayansus

“I am excited that the region – home to a staggering number of species including some of the most charismatic fauna – continues to surprise the world with the nature and pace of species discovery,” said Ravi Singh, Chair of the WWF Living Himalayas Initiative.

Included in the discovery are the snub-nosed monkey, Rhinopithecus strykeri, a monkey that sneezes when it rains, the snakehead fish, Channa andrao, which can walk on land, and the lance-headed pit viper, Protobothrops himalayansus, whose bejewelled skin makes it look more like a piece of jewellery than a snake.

Snub-nosed monkey, Rhinopithecus strykeri

Snub-nosed monkey, Rhinopithecus strykeri

The report also warns that many of these animals are already under threat through habitat loss, climate change, mining and pollution.

“Only 25% of the original habitats in the eastern Himalayas remain intact… hundreds of species that live in the eastern Himalayas are considered globally threatened. The natural landscape of the region is currently facing a wide range of threats and pressures, with climate change assessed as by far the most serious, followed by mining, oil and gas projects, road construction and construction of new dams,” the report detailed.

Snakehead fish, Channa andrao

Snakehead fish, Channa andrao

“The challenge is to preserve our threatened ecosystems before these species, and others yet unknown are lost,” said Sami Tornikoski, Leader of the WWF Living Himalayas Initiative.

It went on to suggest measures that could be used to conserve the species and the environment, such as restoring damaged ecosystems, stopping habitat loss, and having sustainable economic development: “One important step the governments of the region can take is to transition to a green economy. The concept of a green economy is a model for sustainable development that takes into account the global economic benefits of biodiversity.”

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Laura Clarke

Laura Clarke

Laura is a Zoologist currently living in Portsmouth.
Laura Clarke

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