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Seventy new species discovered in Vietnam in 2014 2:48 PM,7/29/2015

A bat with nightmarish fangs (Hypsugo dolichodon), the world's second longest insect (Phryganistria heusii yentuensis) and a colour-changing thorny frog (Graciaxal lumarius) were among the 70 new species found in Viet Nam in 2014, according to a report from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

The 70 species represent more than half of the 139 species found in the Greater Mekong region.

In total, 90 plants, 23 reptiles, 16 amphibians, nine fish, and one mammal were discovered in the Greater Mekong and detailed in the annual report, Magical Mekong, issued by WWF-Viet Nam on Thursday to celebrate its 20 anniversary in Viet Nam.

They include a crocodile newt (Tylototriton shanorum) in Myanmar whose breeding habitat is under threat, a "soul-sucking" dementor wasp (Sirindhornia chaipattana) from Thailand, a stealthy wolf snake (Lycodon zoosvictoriae) from Cambodia and the world's 10,000th reptile (Cyrtodactylus vilaphong) discovered in Laos.

This brings the total new species discovered in the Greater Mekong, which includes Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam, to 2,216 between 1997 and 2014 – an average of three new species a week.

"We are excited to be able to say that Viet Nam is rich in biodiversity and home to a diverse array of species, some of which are unique to Viet Nam – with many still to be discovered," said Dr. Van Ngoc Thinh, country director for WWF-Viet Nam.

"Viet Nam's rich and globally important ecosystems are truly the gift that keeps on giving. We should, therefore, protect them together for the next generations," he said.

The world's second-largest insect, a stick insect that measures 54 cm, was found less than one kilometre away from a village in northern Viet Nam.

"We've only skimmed the surface of new discoveries in the Greater Mekong," said Carlos Drews, WWF Director Global Species Programme. "However, while species are being discovered, intense pressures are taking a terrible toll on the region's species. One wonders how many species have disappeared before they were even discovered."

Such pressures include a proposed new border crossing and road in Cambodia's Mondulkiri Protected Forest, two unsustainable dams in Laos, rising deforestation rates, and continued illegal poaching.

A commitment to protecting key wildlife habitat is also crucial, with countries cooperating across borders to make sustainable decisions on issues such as where to construct large infrastructure, like roads and dams.

"In our next five-year strategy, WWF-Viet Nam will work to ensure effective conservation, sustainable management and climate change resilience in the country. We will aim to expand our work to provide key environmental strategies and contribute to conservation and sustainable development," Thinh said. 

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