No they are not from Alice’s Wonderland; they are real! A ‘sneezing’ monkey, a walking fish, a blue-eyed frog, a singing bird and glorious orchids are among the 211 new species discovered in Eastern Himalayas in the last six years, says the latest report of WWF Living Himalayas Initiative. The report covered wildlife in Nepal, Bhutan, the far north of Myanmar, southern Tibet and north-eastern India. It states that in the past five years 133 plants, 26 species of fish, 10 new amphibians, one reptile, one bird and one mammal have been discovered, out of which 15 were found in Bhutan and 60 in Nepal. Released on the World Habitat Day, the report shows some very intriguing discoveries like a sneezing monkey who has been nicknamed as ‘Snubby’.
The monkey was found in Myanmar and it sneezes especially during rains. It is so because the rainwater gets into their upturned noses causing them to sneeze.
To avoid the problem, snub-nosed monkeys spend rainy days sitting with their heads tucked between their knees, the report said.
A grainy image of a sneezing monkey who has been nicknamed as ‘Snubby’ Guardian
Among the discoveries is a vibrant blue dwarf ‘walking’ snakehead fish, which was found in West Bengal.
The fish breathes air, can survive on land for up to four days and can writhe and wriggle up to quarter of a mile over wet ground between bodies of water.
“Because of its aggressive traits, National Geographic has dubbed the snakehead fish as ‘Fishzilla’. The exploration of more remote areas of the Indian, Nepalese, and Myanmar mountain ranges will undoubtedly yield additional new snakehead species in the future according to scientists,” said the report.
The vibrant blue walking snakehead fish was discovered in West Bengal. Guardian
Another intriguing discovery is of a blue-eyed frog, which was found in Arunachal Pradesh.
“With discovery, comes the important responsibility to continue protecting and caring for these precious gift that this world has been blessed with,” said Dechen Dorji, Country Representative, WWF Bhutan.
But the report also warns of the threats facing the newly-discovered species, with just a quarter of the original habitats in the region still intact and hundreds of plants and animals living in the Eastern Himalayas considered to be globally threatened. Population growth, deforestation, overgrazing, poaching, the wildlife trade, mining, pollution and hydropower development have also contributed to the pressures on the fragile ecosystems in the region, the report said. “Just 25% of the original habitat in the region remains intact,” said the report. “The challenge is to preserve our threatened ecosystems before these species, and others yet unknown, are lost,” said the leader of the WWF Living Himalayas Initiative, Sami Tornikoski. 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, the WWF said in a statement.