We’ve got some good news, some less-than-awesome news, and some killer eye candy.
The good news is that 163 wild-and-crazy new species of animals and plants were discovered last year in a single jungle-y region — known as the Greater Mekong — which stretches through six countries, from China’s Tibetan Platueau all the way to the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam.
The less-than-awesome news, as delivered by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) via a new report, entitled Close Encounters [PDF], is that most of these fanged frogs, pedestrian birds, and alien-esque geckos are probably on their way out (if not now, then soon) thanks to climate change. (Thanks, climate change!) What with rising seas, creeping saltwater, and increasing floods, drought, and — gasp — heat in the Mekong already, accelerating climate change doesn’t paint an optimistic outlook for them.
“Rare, endangered, and endemic species like those newly discovered are especially vulnerable because climate change will further shrink their already restricted habitats,” said Stuart Chapman, director of the WWF Greater Mekong Pregoram, in the report.
Don’t worry too much, though, because starting September 28, the U.N. is on top of it in Bangkok with the next-to-last climate negotiating session before December’s talks in Copenhagen. After all, world leaders really accomplished a lot the past week at the U.N. Summit on Climate Change in New York … right?
Just in case that doesn’t turn out to be fruitful … enjoy a bit of nature porn while these species are still around. Here are eight of the new-to-us plants and animals you should see before impending climate chaos likely wipes them off the map — and back off our radar.
Close encounters of the gecko kind
Thomas Ziegler / WWF Greater Mekong
You can see the Cat Ba leopard gecko (Goniurosaurus catbaensis) give you its orange crazy-eye look only in northern Vietnam’s Cat Ba Island National Park. Its alien appearance actually inspired the report’s title, Close Encounters, embarrassing Spielberg fans in every galaxy.