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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

A mangrove expedition discovered a trove of 700 species — ‘We barely scratched the floor’


Not too long ago, a crew of biologists ventured into the center of a Cambodian mangrove forest to survey the wildlife that lived throughout the winding thickets of tree roots and branches. 

After they emerged from the forest — which spanned the Peam Krasop sanctuary and the Koh Kapik Ramsar reserve of Cambodia — the biologists have been dumbfounded by the sheer variety of animals they met on their expedition. 

“We discovered 700 totally different species in these mangrove forests however we suspect we’ve got not even scratched the floor,” mentioned Stefanie Rog, lead writer of the research, in an interview with The Guardian. “If we might take a look at the realm in even higher depth we might discover 10 occasions extra, I’m positive.”

Rog is a conservation biologist presently based mostly in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. She has devoted her life to the research of mangrove forests and their useful results on the atmosphere and the weak animal species they host. 

“There may be certainly a bent to give attention to the companies the mangrove timber present, like coastal protection, and the soil that advantages the local weather by locking in excessive quantities of carbon,” Rog instructed Mangrove Alliance

“On the similar time, the worth of mangroves for biodiversity conservation — in addition to the companies that animals present to mangrove forest well being — is commonly ignored.”

The undervalued nature and fantastic thing about mangroves is strictly what Rog hoped to seize when she led her crew on their newest expedition, and it was an plain success. 

A mangrove forest in Cambodia
A mangrove forest in Cambodia. Picture through Christian Pirkl / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED)

Of the 700 animals discovered, researchers recorded 74 species of fish and 150 species of birds, 15 of which could be discovered on the Worldwide Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) crimson checklist of threatened and endangered species. 

They have been particularly ecstatic to identify two species specifically: the hairy-nosed otter — a uncommon Asian otter on the verge of extinction — and the endangered fishing cat: a stout, striped and noticed wild cat that likes to swim. 

“It’s very uncommon to see a fishing cat and we’ve got solely came upon that they’re within the forest from the photograph­graphs taken by our digicam traps,” Rog defined. “Mangroves are locations of roots and dust and they’re tough for people to get into, which is why they supply treasured sanctuaries for these weak animals.”

The survey was supported by the Fishing Cat Ecological Enterprise and Fauna & Flora Worldwide, a world conservation group led partially by Sir David Attenborough, and it comes at an important time. 

Within the final three many years alone, the world has misplaced 40% of its mangrove forests. Rog and her fellow researchers hope that this wildlife survey will deliver consideration to the significance of mangroves and the way very important they’re to the planet — and the menagerie of animals that decision it house. 

“Mangrove forests are lovely, wealthy, mysterious, and harvest a lot life. They’re a lot extra than simply an ecosystem that gives a carbon-saving service or coastal safety. They’re truly lovely in their very own proper,” Rog emphasised. 

“For me, there is no such thing as a higher feeling than to be on this distinctive, legendary forest, figuring out there’s nonetheless a lot extra to discover – that there’s one other world ready for additional discovery.”

Header pictures through Tambako The Jaguar (CC BY-ND 2.0 DEED), Christian Pirkl / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0 DEED), Rigelus / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0 DEED)

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