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A conservation group says newly discovered species in the Mekong river
region are at risk of extinction because of rising global temperatures.
The international conservation group WWF (World Wildlife Fund) says 163 species of
plants and animals were discovered last year in the Greater Mekong
region of Southeast Asia where the Mekong River flows.
the most unusual animals included a frog with fangs in Thailand that
eats birds and a leopard-spotted gecko found on an island in Vietnam.
in a report released in Bangkok Friday, the WWF says that temperatures
in the region are expected to rise by as much as four degrees Celsius
in the next 60 years and that could threaten their existence.
WWF says rare and endangered species are at the greatest risk from
climate change, because rising temperatures could affect food supplies
or cause weather problems that damage habitats. It says the newly
discovered species are especially vulnerable because of their
"Species that live at the tops of
mountains only or low-lying islands only, like this Cat Ba gecko that
was just found, are also at great risk to extinction from
climate-change impacts," said Geoffrey Blate, WWF's climate change
coordinator for the Greater Mekong.
The Greater Mekong region spans Burma, Cambodia, China's Yunnan Province, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Chapman, the WWF's program director for Laos, says changes to wildlife
in the Mekong area could also affect many of the 60 million people who
depend on the river for their livelihoods.
"Of all the
region's the WWF works in, the Mekong region probably has the closest
link between its resource and human livelihood than any other region in
the world," he said.
The WWF says more than 1,000 new species have been discovered in the Greater Mekong region in the past decade.
The WWF report comes just days ahead of a major United Nations meeting in Bangkok on climate change.
Bangkok meeting will try to narrow down a framework agreement on global
emission targets to be negotiated at the end of this year.