A report from conservation charity WWF said the unusual finds in the region of Southeast Asia showed it was a “hotspot” for wildlife diversity but also highlighted the threats they faced and the need to protect species and habitats from being lost.
In total 155 plants, 16 fish species, 17 amphibians, 35 reptiles and one mammal were formally described as new species in 2020 in the Greater Mekong, covering Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand and Vietnam.
They include a langur monkey (Trachypithecus popa) named after Burma’s Mount Popa, the first evidence of which was found from specimens collected more than a century ago and now in London’s Natural History Museum.
Genetic analysis of the museum langurs found they were a match with more recently collected bones from central Burma, indicating the species was still alive today, and in 2018 camera traps caught images of the primates.
It is expected to be listed as critically endangered as only about 200-250 of the langurs are thought to be living in the wild in four isolated locations and are threatened by hunting, habitat loss, agriculture and timber extraction.