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New species discovered in the Greater Mekong at risk of extinction due to climate change

A bird-eating fanged frog, a gecko that looks like it’s from another planet and a bird that would rather walk than fly, are among the 163 new species discovered in the Greater Mekong region last year that are now at risk of extinction due to climate change, says a new report launched by WWF ahead of UN climate talks in Bangkok.

WWF's Close Encounters report
This report for the Greater Mekong Region spotlights species newly identified by science in 2008, including 100 plants, 28 fish, 18 reptiles, 14 amphibians, 2 mammals and a bird.

Scientists identified these rare and unique species within the jungles and rivers of the Greater Mekong Region of Southeast Asia that spans Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the south-western Chinese province of Yunnan. More on the Mekong

The Close Encounters report is the second new species report on this region. The initial report First Contact was launched in December 2008 and revealed over 1,000 new species discoveries in the Greater Mekong between 1997 and 2007.

Climate change

The extraordinary new species discoveries of 2008 cements the Greater Mekong’s place as one of the world’s last biological frontiers, but also highlights what could be lost as a result of the increasing impact of climate change.

Recent studies show the climate of the Greater Mekong region is already changing. Models suggest continued warming, increased variability and more frequent and damaging extreme climate events.

Rising seas and saltwater intrusion will cause major coastal impacts – especially in the Mekong River delta – which is one of the three most vulnerable deltas on Earth, according to the most recent International Panel on Climate Change report.

Over the next two weeks, government delegates will meet in Bangkok, Thailand, for the next round of UN climate change talks in the lead up to the Copenhagen Climate Summit this December, where the world is scheduled to agree on a new global climate treaty. Learn how WWF is fighting climate change

WWF supports the formulation of Asia’s first regional climate change adaptation agreement to provide a legal framework and mechanism for regional cooperation and coordination on climate change. WWF believes that Greater Mekong nations hold the key to both economic development and ensuring that the integrity of conservation landscapes remains intact.

A bird eating, fanged frog: Limnonectes megastomias

A new frog species for Thailand, Limnonectes megastomias, is an opportunistic eater, lying in wait for its prey in streams. The species has a diverse diet which includes other frogs, insects and even birds.

The species has a greatly enlarged head and fangs that are actually growths that protrude from the jawbone. Males of use their fangs in combat, and scientists have observed frogs with missing limbs and multiple scars.

Unlike many other species of frogs, the males are bigger than the females. Males also have exceptionally large mouths and powerful jaws.

Experience the Greater Mekong

Photo Gallery

Greater Mekong Close Encounters
New species discoveries 2009

Image: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

© Thomas Ziegler / WWF Greater Mekong
The Cat Ba leopard gecko (Goniurosaurus catbaensis) is found exclusively in Cat Ba Island National Park in northern Vietnam. This species was one of the many new species discovered in the Greater Mekong region of Southeast Asia during 2008.

Take a quick trek through the Greater Mekong’s varied landscapes.

Join WWF’s field teams on the ground in the Greater Mekong.

Nonggang babblers are seldom seen in trees or flying. Watch rare footage of this walking bird.

See where scientists discovered a bird-eating fanged frog.

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