A walking fish, a unicorn (of sorts), a blue eyed frog, a ‘sneezing’ monkey, are among the two hundred and eleven new species discovered in Eastern Himalayas in the last six years, says the WWF Living Himalayas Initiative’s latest report termed “Hidden Himalayas: Asia’s Wonderland” released on Monday.
In total there are 133 plants, 39 invertebrates, 26 fish, 10 amphibians, one reptile, one bird, and one mammal out of which 15 were found in Bhutan and 60 in Nepal. Also, in the last 15 years, 550 species have been discovered in the region covering Bhutan, north Myanmar, Nepal, southern Tibet and north-eastern Indian states like Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Sikkim, North Bengal.
“The importance of the Eastern Himalayas as a biodiversity hotspot is well known. Endowed with exceptionally rich flora and fauna, the region is truly a conservation jewel,” said Yeshey Dorji, Minister of Agriculture and Forests of Bhutan.
Released on the World Habitat Day, the report shows some very intriguing discoveries like “Snubby” as the scientists have nicknamed the snub-nosed monkey found in Myanmar who sneezes, especially, during rains because the rainwater gets into their upturned noses causing them to sneeze.
Another interesting discovery is a ‘walking’ snakehead fish because of its ability to survive on land for upto four days and writhe and wriggle up to quarter of a mile over wet ground. “Because of its aggressive traits, National Geographic has dubbed the snakehead fish as “Fishzilla” The exploration of more remote areas of the Indian, Nepalese, and Myanmar mountain ranges will undoubtedly yield additional new snakehead species in the future according to scientists,” said the report.
One has only heard of unicorns in dreamland, but a unicorn of sorts as the report put it, is discovered because of the protruding “column” found underneath the species.
“With discovery, comes the important responsibility to continue protecting and caring for these precious gift that this world has been blessed with,” said Dechen Dorji, Country Representative, WWF Bhutan.
With India serving home to about 12% of the world’s endangered plant species, its important to gauge the threats to original habitats. The report specifies the threats to natural habitats in Eastern Himalayas, climate change being the top most followed by mining, oil and gas projects, road construction, construction of new dams and illegal hunting.