- According to a new report released on World Habitat Day, scientists working with a variety of research institutions and organizations discovered more than 200 new species in the Eastern Himalayas in just five years.
- Among the newly discovered species are a blue-eyed frog, a “bejeweled” pit viper and a fish that can live out of water for four days.
- The region is at a severe risk from climate change, which is already having an adverse impact on biodiversity and ecosystem health.
The Eastern Himalayas in South Asia is one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, and now there are more than 200 new species known to science to prove the point — among them, a blue-eyed frog, a “bejeweled” pit viper and a fish that can live out of water for four days.
Between 2009 and 2014, according to a new report released on World Habitat Day by the World Wildlife Fund, scientists working with a variety of organizations and research institutions discovered 133 plants, 39 invertebrates, 26 fish, 10 amphibians, one reptile, one bird and one mammal in the Eastern Himalayas.
Increasing our knowledge of this region teeming with life is all the more important given how many threats it’s currently facing.
The WWF report notes that previous research has shown only 25% of the original habitat in the Eastern Himalays remains intact, and lists a number of threats to the region, including agriculture, forest destruction as a result of unsustainable and illegal logging, fuelwood collection, overgrazing by livestock, poaching, mining and pollution.
In the forward to the report, Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji, Minister for Agriculture and Forests in Bhutan, a country on the eastern end of the Himalayas, writes that the region is at severe risk from climate change, which is already having an adverse impact on biodiversity and ecosystems health due to warmer temperatures, increased flooding, droughts and shifting weather patterns.
“With the risk of climate change coupled with increasing human pressures and threats, we must continue to enhance monitoring of the Himalayan ecosystem and equip ourselves with tools to adapt to the impacts of climate change,” Dorji said.
“We need to come together to conserve this shared natural heritage. We must ensure that there is balance between development and conservation.”