Planet Ark News - Nearly 400 new species discovered in the Amazon
Planet Ark News

Nearly 400 new species discovered in the Amazon

Date: 28-Sep-17
Author: Laura Chalk

Fiery monkeys are just one of around 400 species recently discovered in the Amazon © ABC News

Fiery monkeys are just one of around 400 species recently discovered in the Amazon

A fiery-orange tailed monkey, a new species of pink river dolphin and a stingray resembling a cross between a pancake and honey comb are among the hundreds of new species discovered in the Amazon over the past two years.

A new report, released by the Living Amazon Initiative – a partnership between conservation group the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Brazil’s Mamiraua Institute for Sustainable Development - details the 381 species discovered. They include one bird, 19 reptiles, 20 mammals, 32 amphibians, 93 fish and 216 plants.

A new animal or plant species is discovered in the Amazon every two days – “the fastest to be observed this century”, the WWF said.

What amazed experts was the number of large mammals and reptiles that had managed to evade detection for so long.

Many of the newly-discovered species are under threat, including from deforestation, which is the case for the orange-tailed titi monkey.

The new species of pink river dolphin is estimated to have a population of about 1000, with low levels of genetic diversity. Potential threats include the construction of hydroelectric dams and industrial, agricultural and cattle ranching activities. Pink river dolphins are an integral part of local culture around the Amazon, with many myths and legends around them.

A species of puffbird, Nystalus obamai, has even been named after the former president of the United States, Barack Obama. The bird thrives in protected areas throughout Peru and Brazil.

The creation of more protected areas is among the strategies cited in the report to lessen the negative impact of the development that the Amazon is and will continue to be subject to. There is also a call to maintain protected areas, with controversial plans to dissolve these regions for mining and other industrial development. 

WWF Brazil Amazon program coordinator Ricardo Mello says the discoveries are “a signal that we still have much to learn about the Amazon.” And, that it was a reminder biodiversity “needs to be known and protected.”  In an age of rapid development and habitat destruction, this reminder is more relevant than ever.

Positive Actions

  • Play your part in conservation efforts near you, by volunteering with local environmental and conservation groups. For example, National Tree Day in Australia.
  • By lowering our dependence on fossil fuels, we reduce the need for more mines and other industrial developments to occur – relieving pressure on habitats for wildlife. Consider how you can lower your carbon footprint and in doing so, help biodiversity to thrive. 
  • Stay up-to-date with the conservation efforts of WWF here.


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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.

Laura                                             Chalk

Author: Laura Chalk

Laura joined Planet Ark in 2016. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience having travelled the world and a background in teaching English as a second language among other things.
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