A walking snake headfish. A sneezing monkey. A new singing bird.
Nope, it's not a new animated movie.
It's actually a major breakthrough in the discovery of new flora and fauna. In a World Wide Fund report released on Monday, October 5, as many as 211 new species of plants and animals have been classified as new finds around the Himalayan region. Not only these animals but also a number of splendid orchids have been discovered over the past six years.
According to the WWF report, Hidden Himalayas: Asia’s Wonderland, the species were found in the region spanning north-east India, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar and southern parts of Tibet. This is by far the biggest discovery of species since 2008,when 133 plants, 39 invertebrates, 26 fish, 10 amphibians, one reptile, a bird and a mammal species came to light in South Asia.
Among the new discoveries is a bird called the spotted wren-babbler, or Elachura Formosa, known for its high-pitched voice. It's been found in north-east India. Discovered last year, the bird only measures 10 cm and has speckled in white all over its body.
Another of the big discoveries is Myanmar’s snub-nosed monkey, which sneezes when rainwater enters its nostrils. The sneezing monkey, in other words.
The ecological diversity of this region is immense, says the report, with at least 10,000 species of plants, 300 of mammals, 977 of birds, 176 of reptiles, 105 of amphibians and 269 of freshwater fish. Alarmingly, though, many of these species are threatened by ecological imbalances across the region.
The report underlines climate change as the most serious issue, but problems like population growth, deforestation, overgrazing, poaching, the wildlife trade, mining, pollution and hydro-power development have also damaged the fragile ecosystem. 'Just 25% of the original habitat in the region remains intact,' says the report.
The WWF has urged governments for strong measures to protect these animals and plants, and take an alternative path towards greener, more sustainable economic development.