Group visits to ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo
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New frog species discovered on Vietnam’s highest mountain

Conservationists at international wildlife charity ZSL (Zoological Society of London) have been celebrating the discovery of two new frog species who were found on Vietnam’s highest mountain.

Discovered 3,143 meters above sea level,  the new frog species have been named by conservationists as the Mount Fansipan horned frog (Megophrys fansipanesis) and the Hoang Lien horned frog (Megophrys hoangliensis)  – after the places where they were  found.

These remarkable finds demonstrate just how little is known about this fascinating region of Vietnam. However, ZSL’s amphibian experts are already concerned that the two species could be facing the risk of extinction, due to development of their habitat to support tourism.

ZSL’s Curator of Herpetology, Benjamin Tapley said; “The discovery of these frogs is extremely exciting but identifying them as two new species has been by no means easy. At first glance, the frogs looked very similar and even their calls sounded identical, like a loud insect chirp on repeat – but we simply couldn’t identify them as any known living species just by looking at them. It wasn’t until we recorded and analysed their calls and DNA, that the pieces of the puzzle came together.

“Because frogs are so vulnerable to predators when they call, they stopped calling when we approached. This meant that we often had to wait for long periods of time in precarious situations, such as, in the middle of a waterfall in the depths of the night – just waiting for a few snippets of audio. Yet collecting these calls was vital in allowing us to finally confirm they are in fact, two, completely new separate species.

“However, we did unfortunately observe an enormous amount of habitat destruction and degradation at many of our study sites due to infrastructure being built for tourists and from tourists littering and defecating in the streams; posing a long-term threat to the species if controls are not put in place soon.

“There is also an urgent need for additional amphibian surveys, particularly at high elevation sites in Vietnam where other undiscovered and potentially highly-threatened amphibian species could occur. However, the important message is, now that these species are named – we can determine how to try and conserve them”.

(Megophrys fansipanesis © Benjamin Tapley)

To find out more about ZSL’s conservation efforts around the globe, visit www.zsl.org

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