New species indicates Indonesia's wealth of biodiversity

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The recent discovery of new species in virgin forests in remote Papua province of Indonesia confirmed the country's rich biodiversity but threats remain, scientists said, a local media reported Wednesday.

Scientists warned the swelling population, deforestation and climate change could lead to the loss of precious biodiversity.

Local and international scientists participating in Conservation International's (CI) Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) have found new mammals, a reptile, an amphibian, a dozen insects and a new bird in a remote forest in the Foja Mountains area in Papua.

"We believe many mysteries of biodiversity remain unmasked in Foja Mountain area," said Hary Sutrisno, the research leader from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI).

Sutrisno said that scientists were racing to uncover more new species, including in Papua, and were fighting the threats of climate change and rapid deforestation. Scientists discovered a bizarre spike-nosed tree frog, an oversized, but notably tame, woolly rat, a gargoyle-like, bent-toed gecko with yellow eyes, an imperial pigeon and a tiny forest wallaby, the smallest documented marsupial in the world.

Other discoveries recorded in the survey included a new blossom bat that feeds on rainforest nectar, a small new tree-mouse, a new black-and-white butterfly related to the common monarch, and a new flowering shrub.

The Foja Mountains encompass an area of more than 300,000 hectares of undeveloped, and undisturbed rainforest. "It will be hard to find new species in Java or Sumatra since most of their forests have been cleared.

Indonesia claims to have 12 percent (515 species) of the world' s mammal species, the second-highest after the Brazil, and 17 percent (1,531 species) of total bird species, the fifth-highest in the world.

The government said Indonesia was also home to 15 percent (270 species) of amphibians and reptile species, 31,746 species of vascular plants and 37 percent of the world's species of fish. Darori predicted that more than half the biodiversity remained unrecorded.

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