1,200  New Species Discovered in the Amazon in the Last Decade

In a report published on behalf of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), highlighting the need to conserve the Amazon rain forest and the diversity of life within it, it is estimated that 1,200 new species of animals and plants have been discovered between 1999 and 2009.

In the report, presented to delegates at the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, a conference taking place in Nagoya, Japan, a total of 1,200 new species discovered between 1999 and 2009 are listed – highlighting the importance of the rain forest ecosystem.

Making up the 1,200 new species are 637 new species of plants, 257 fish, 216 amphibians, 55 new species of reptile, 16 birds and 39 new species of mammal.  Meg Symington, speaking on behalf of the WWF commented that the actual number of new species discovered would have been much higher:

“Because we didn’t include insects.”

The report is entitled “Amazon Alive: A Decade of Discoveries 1999-2009, it highlights the need to protect the Amazon rain forest and other habitats.  Scientists have estimated that something like 17% of the Amazon rain forest has already been destroyed, lost forever as land is converted to settlement, farming or for logging.

Speaking about the urgent need to conserve the Amazonian rain forest Meg went onto state that about an acre per minute is being deforested and with that rate of destruction, the species that lived there lose ground and come closer to extinction.

At this speed, an area the size of our home county (Cheshire) is being lost in a little under a week!

Meg Symington, WWF’s Managing Director for the Amazon added:

“You lose millions of years of evolutionary development in an instant, that includes the medical and scientific possibilities each of those species represent.”

Some of the species recently discovered include a blue-fanged tarantula, a bald-headed parrot, a new species of river dolphin and a new species of anaconda.

The anaconda, is the first new anaconda species identified since 1936, it grows to an estimated 4 metres in length and is native to Bolivia. It has been named Eunectes beniensis, it is also known as the Bolivian Anaconda.

Eunectes beniensis – The First New Species of Anaconda Discovered for over Seventy Years

Picture Credit: José Maria Fernández Díaz-Formentí

This new species of South American constrictor, appears to be smiling in the picture, as if it was quite proud of being discovered.  The smile effect is due to the snake’s large mouth, some species Anacondas are capable of growing to lengths in excess of 7 metres and they are the world’s heaviest snake.

Deforestation in the Amazon basin remains “alarmingly high” according to a recent Food and Agriculture Organisation (United Nations) report.  It has been estimated that something like 13 million hectares of forest had been converted to other forms of land use over the last ten years or so.

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