Lately it seems that they only thing we hear about rare animal species is that they are nearly endangered or nearly extinct. Today, though, we have some good news; scientists have recently identified nearly 400 never-before-seen species in the Amazon rain forest. This news comes in the third report of a series that has already listed 2,000 new species over the past 17 years.
The report lists:
- 216 previously unknown plant species
- 93 previously unknown fish species
- 32 previously unknown amphibian species
- 19 previously unknown reptile species
- a single previously unknown bird species
They also have identified 20 previously unknown mammal species, though two of those are fossils.
But that good news sunshine comes with a few clouds, too. The World Wildlife Fund says that all of these specie have been discovered in areas already threatened by human activity. According to WWF Brazil and Amazon coordinator Ricardo Mello, “All the species that were discovered, all 381, are in areas where humankind is destroying the Amazon. This is very important to us, because it links the fact that our economic activities are causing species to go extinct before we even know about them.”
WWF Brazil and Amazon head Sarah Hutchison put it even more bluntly. She makes sure to point out because of this human activity, we could be at risk for losing many other new species that could die off before we even get a chance to find them. Perhaps on the heels of discovering the two mammal fossils, but she warns that some of these new species may only be discovered after their extinction.
She comments, “We are only at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to unveiling the incredible species that live in the Amazon, yet instead of this precious area being safeguarded, it is under greater threat than ever before.”
Hutchison also notes, “The discovery of 381 new species is a wake-up call for the governments of Amazon countries that they must halt the ongoing and relentless deforestation and work to preserve its unparalleled biodiversity. If they don’t, there will continue to be irreversible impacts on the Amazon’s much-loved wildlife, undiscovered species and the local and indigenous people that call it home.”
Still, Hutchison remarks that the data from this report might be just the wake up call for all of us. With more than 2,000 species discovered in the first fifteen years of the millennium, we really need to learn how even the smallest human impact can have a great impact.