The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has discovered nearly 115 new species in the Greater Mekong in Southeast Asia this year, including a snail-eating turtle, a horseshoe bat and a bent-toed gecko.
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The Greater Mekong region covers 2.6 million square kilometers and is home to a combined human population of around 326 million. It includes Cambodia, the People's Republic of China, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, and is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world.
The mountain horseshoe bat was found in the forests of Laos and Thailand; it has taken nearly 10 years to confirm that it can be categorized as a new species.
The snail-eating turtle was discovered at a market in Thailand. Conservationists say it urgently needs to be protected from manmade constructs such as dams and dikes.
In 2016, the WWF discovered three mammals, 11 amphibians, two fish, 11 reptiles and 88 plants in the Greater Mekong, including an extremely rare crocodile lizard and two species of mole living among a network of streams and rivers.
Stuart Chapman, conservation director for the WWF's Greater Mekong Programme, said: "This region is home to both incredible wildlife and incredible communities of people. We need to find a way forward so that both of these groups can live together harmoniously.
"If we don't come together and decide that their lives are worth saving, the day when there are no species left to discover will come sooner than we think," he told the Independent.
In the last two decades, 2,524 new species have been found in the Greater Mekong, which is one of the regions most prone to environmental damage.
The discovery of "more than two new species a week, and 2,500 in the past 20 years, speaks to how incredibly important the Greater Mekong is," Chapman told the Guardian.
"The species in the Greater Mekong deserve protection from unscrupulous collectors who are willing to pay thousands of dollars or more for the rarest, most unique and most endangered species."