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94 new species discovered in Nepal
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After a decade of research in the Himalayan region from Nepal to the far north of Myanmar, as well as southern parts of China's Tibet Autonomous Region, scientists have documented an amazing treasure trove of 350 new species of plants and animals, 94 of which were found in Nepal alone.

"Over 350 new species, including the world's smallest deer, a 'flying frog' and a 100 million-year old gecko have been discovered in the eastern Himalayas, a biological treasure trove now threatened by climate change," the World Wildlife Fund's Nepal chapter said in Kathmandu Monday, releasing the report in which the findings have been documented.

The report "The Eastern Himalayas -- Where Worlds Collide" said that in Nepal alone 94 new species were discovered, which include 40 plants, 36 invertebrates, seven fish, two amphibians, and nine reptiles.

One of the most remarkable discoveries in Nepal was Heterometrus nepalensis, a scorpion new to the world discovered in the Chitwan National Park in the Terai plains in the south of the country.

This discovery is significant as it is the first scorpion ever to be discovered in the country and is given the name to honor the occasion, WWF-Nepal said.

"This enormous cultural and biological diversity underscores the fragile nature of an environment which risks being lost forever unless the impacts of climate change are reversed," said Tariq Aziz,the leader of WWF's Living Himalayas Initiative.

"People and wildlife form a rich mosaic of life across this rugged and remarkable landscape, making it among the biologically richest areas on earth. But the Himalayas are also among the most vulnerable to global climate change."

In December, world leaders will gather in Copenhagen to reach an agreement on a new climate deal, which will replace the existing Kyoto Protocol.

"Only an ambitious and fair deal based on an agreement between rich and poor countries can save the planet and its treasures such as the Himalayas from devastating climate change," said Kim Carstensen, the leader of the WWF's Global Climate Initiative.

The eastern Himalayas are now known to harbor a staggering 10, 000 plant species, 300 mammal species, 977 bird species, 176 reptiles, 105 amphibians and 269 types of freshwater fish. The region also has the highest density of the Bengal tiger and is the last bastion of the charismatic greater one-horned rhino.

Historically, the rugged and largely inaccessible landscape of the eastern Himalayas has made biological surveys in the region extremely difficult. As a result, wildlife has remained poorly surveyed and there are large areas that are still biologically unexplored.

(Xinhua News Agency August 11, 2009)

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