India serves as a home to more than 12% of the planet’s endangered plant species. Therefore, it is very crucial that the threats to the original habitat of these endangered species are gauged. The World Wide Fund (WWF) has revealed that more than 211 new species have been discovered in Eastern Himalayas.
The WWF report was released in Bhutan on the occasion of World Habitat Day. The Himalayan region straddles countries like the far north of Myanmar, Nepal and southern Tibet. As well as north-eastern Indian states like Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Sikkim, North Bengal are one of the most diverse and rich regions on the planet when it comes to biological diversity.
For the past six years, 34 new species have been found each year in the region. The Eastern Himalayas encompasses within itself four of the globe’s 200 eco-regions — crucial landscapes of global biological significance.
It also houses 10,000 plant species, 105 amphibians, 269 freshwater fish, 300 mammal species, 977 bird species, and 176 reptiles, not to mention the highest density of the Bengal Tiger. It is also the last citadel of the greater one-horned rhino.
Recently, three new species have been discovered in the Eastern Himalayan region. It included a blue eyed frog, a walking snakehead fish, a snub-nosed monkey and a lance-headed pit viper.
The 211 discoveries include 133 plants, ten amphibians, 39 invertebrates, 26 fishes, one reptile, one bird and one mammal, in the period between 2009 and 2014.
The most spectacular discovery was a dwarf “walking” snakehead fish. It looked more like a Unicorn and could breathe air and can survive on land for up to four hours.
One hilarious discovery was a monkey (Rhinopithecus strykeri) whose upturned nose provokes it to sneeze every time it rains. Of course, the living gems—the bejewelled lance-headed Pit Viper (Protobothrops himalayansus) was also discovered here.
WWF Living Himalayas Species Discovery
Ravi Singh, chief executive officer and secretary general of WWF-India and chair of the WWF Living Himalayas Initiative concluded that the Himalayan region has a staggering number of species which needs to be discovered.
The WWF report, however, cautions that the region is under severe threat from activities like mining, oil and gas projects, infrastructural developments, wildlife poaching and pollution.