World Wildlife Federation announces discovery of 21 new species in Bhutan

Earlier this week, the World Wildlife Federation published a new book, “The Eastern Himalayas: Where the World Collides.”

In it, the conservancy organization touted the discovery of over 350 new species in Bhutan and parts of India and Nepal over the last ten years. Most of these new discoveries are plants (244), and invertebrates (60), but there are two new mammals and two new bird varieties as well.

One of the most interesting discovery was that of the world’s smallest deer. As the organization notes in its press release:

The report mentions the miniature muntjac, also called the “leaf deer,” which is the world’s oldest and smallest deer species. Scientists initially believed the small creature found in the world’s largest mountain range was a juvenile of another species but DNA tests confirmed the light brown animal with innocent dark eyes was a distinct and new species.

The above photo of the arunachal macaque was first identified in 2005 and at the time was the first new monkey species identified in more than 100 years. The WWF also says that it’s “the highest-dwelling macaque in the world, occurring between 1,600m and 3,500m above sea level.”

Press Trust of India covered the launch from Thimphu, noting:

“Notwithstanding incredible diversity of biological resources, the eastern Himalayas, including Bhutan, is faced with many threats and challenges, the most prominent ones of which are climate change and poaching. Both of these pressing challenges are trans-boundary and regional in nature and scale,” Bhutan’s Agriculture Secretary Sherub Gyeltshen said at the launch.

WWF programme director Vijay Moktan told state-run daily Kuensel that the discoveries showcase the unexplored biodiversity in the Himalayas.

“This indicates that ecosystems, necessary for the survival of species in Bhutan, are still intact despite emerging development pressures. Bhutan still provides east-west and north-south connectivity for the eastern Himalayas and its diverse species to thrive and evolve,” Moktan said.

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