A report by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) entitled ‘Hidden Himalayas: Asia’s Wonderland’ presents a list of 211 new species that includes 133 plants, 39 invertebrates, 26 fish, 10 amphibians, one reptile, one bird and one mammal. The discovery was made in the Eastern Himalayas in Nepal, Bhutan, far north of Myanmar, southern Tibet and north eastern India between 2009 and 2014.
The most striking discovery among these include a blue dwarf walking snakehead fish, snub nosed monkey, a jewel like snake, spotted bird- wren babbler and three different types of wild bananas. Scientists say the snakehead fish can breathe atmospheric air and can survive on land for four days. The snub nosed monkey has become the centre of attraction as its upturned nose causes it to sneeze every time it rains. According to locals from the remote forests of northern Myanmar, spotting the monkey is easier during rains as rainwater accumulating in its nose causes it to sneeze. In order to avoid this problem, the monkey tucks its head between its knees during rains. The newly discovered snake is a Himalayan lance-headed pit viper which has striking red-brown bands. Scientists call the snake a piece of jewellery because of its vagule iridescent look.
Chief of WWF Living Himalayas initiative Sami Tornikoski said, “The challenge is to preserve our threatened ecosystems before these species, and others yet unknown are lost. The Eastern Himalayas is at a crossroads. Governments can decide whether to follow the current path towards fragile economies that do not fully account for environmental impacts, or take an alternative path towards greener, more sustainable economic development”.