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New species found in Mekong, but survival uncertain

Hanoi - A “yin and yang” frog and a fish that can walk are among dozens of newly discovered species in Vietnam, conservationists said, but habitat loss and poaching are making their survival uncertain.

Scientists discovered 36 new species in Vietnam last year and 126 in the Greater Mekong region, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said.

A frog with striking black and white patterned eyes resembling the yin and yang symbol in Chinese philosophy was found in southern Vietnam. Credit: AFP

Among the new discoveries is a catfish on Phu Quoc island, Clarias gracilentus, which can move across land using its pectoral fins, the environmental group said.

A frog with striking black and white patterned eyes resembling the yin and yang symbol in Chinese philosophy was found in southern Vietnam. The Leptobrachium leucops frog lives in wet, evergreen forests, the report said.

However, issues like deforestation and overfishing could threaten the survival of these new species.

“While the 2011 discoveries affirms the Mekong as a region of astonishing biodiversity, many new species are already struggling to survive in shrinking habitats,” said Nick Cox, manager of the WWF's Greater Mekong species programme.

“The terrifying drop in the number of wild tigers - 70 percent in just over a decade - and the recent local extinction of the Javan rhino in Vietnam in 2010 are urgent reminders that unique creatures are being lost at an alarming rate due to human pressures,” he said. - Sapa-dpa

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