New animal species discovered in Asia

THE world’s smallest wallaby and a frog with a Pinocchio-like nose were among the new species discovered in a remote mountain wilderness, conservationists said.

Wildlife discovered in Indonesia’s Foja Mountains included several new mammals such as a blossom bat which feeds on rainforest nectar and a giant woolly rat, as well as insects and other animals.

The discoveries, which also included a “gargoyle-like” gecko with yellow eyes, were made in a rapid assessment programme survey of the area which has been described as a “Lost World”, by Conservation International.

The surveys, which last around three to four weeks, bring together teams of field biologists to assess the diversity of wildlife in a specific area.

The Foja Mountains, classified as a national wildlife sanctuary, are in the Indonesian province of Papua on the island of New Guinea and encompass more than 300,000 hectares of pristine rainforest.

The team of scientists found a wide array of species, including a number believed to be new to science – such as the frog with a long protuberance or protrusion which points upwards when the male is calling but deflates when he is less active.

Herpetologist Paul Oliver spotted the amphibian sitting on a bag of rice in the campsite from which the team were tracking species.

The international and Indonesian researchers also found a new tiny forest wallaby, the smallest member of the kangaroo family in the world, a black and white butterfly related to the common monarch, a tree-mouse, a new flowering shrub and imperial pigeons with feathers that appear coloured rusty, whitish and grey.

The expedition in November 2008 is featured in the June edition of National Geographic magazine, with images of the new species captured by photographer Tim Laman.

The discoveries were announced after it emerged governments had failed to meet targets to halt the loss of wildlife by 2010, which was designated the International Year of Biodiversity.

Bruce Beehler, senior research scientist at Conservation International and a member of the expedition team, said: “While animals and plants are being wiped out across the globe at a pace never seen in millions of years, the discovery of these absolutely incredible forms of life is much-needed positive news.

“Places like these represent a healthy future for all of us and show that it is not too late to stop the current species extinction crisis.”

Conservation International is hoping the documentation of the unique wildlife of the Foja Mountains will encourage the Indonesian government to boost long-term protection of the area.

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