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 user 2005-05-03 at 9:30:00 am Views: 42
  • #9229
    Borneo a ‘hotbed’ of new species
    Over 360 new species have been discovered in Borneo over the
    last decade, highlighting the great need for conservation in the area, the WWF

    Previously unseen insects, frogs, fish, lizards and snakes have made
    themselves known to science for the first time.

    And a new report suggests thousands more species remain undiscovered.

    However, these newly introduced and yet-to-be-uncovered species are also
    under threat, WWF claims, because Borneo’s forests are being cleared.

    “Borneo is undoubtedly one of the most important centres for wildlife in the
    world,” said Tess Robertson, head of the forests programme at WWF-UK. “It is one
    of the only two places on Earth where orang-utans, elephants and rhinos can be

    Lost world

    Apart from the famous orang-utan, Borneo is home to other threatened species
    such as the clouded leopard, the sun bear and the Bornean gibbon.

    Amongst the 361 new species discovered since 1994 are a catfish and a giant
    cockroach, believed to be the largest in the world.

    Other species include 260 insects, 50 plants, 30 freshwater fish,
    seven frogs, six lizards, five crabs, two snakes and a toad.

    WWF’s report, Borneo’s Lost World, suggests that a panoply of species may yet
    be found, especially in the largest and most pristine forests in the heart of
    the island, which is relatively inaccessible.

    However, these species, along with their better known compatriots, have an
    uncertain future because of the timber, rubber, palm oil and paper trades.

    Since 1996, deforestation in the whole of Indonesia has increased to an
    average of two million hectares per year – an area about half the size of the

    The WWF claims that logging is set to rise because of the country’s growing
    population and the soaring demands of international markets.

    According to the report, the illegal trade in exotic animals is
    also on the rise, as logging trails and cleared forest open access to more
    remote areas.

    The WWF says it is working with Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia on a new
    initiative to conserve the area known as the “Heart of Borneo” – a total of
    220,000 sq km of equatorial rainforest – through a network of protected areas
    and sustainably managed forest.

    “The forests of Borneo are crucial not just for the protection of wildlife
    but also to safeguard water resources necessary for the prosperity of the
    island,” said Ms Robertson.

    “Losing the heart of Borneo would be an unacceptable tragedy not only for
    Borneo, but for all of Asia, and the rest of the globe. It really is now or