Surveys in Myanmar have captured camera-trap footage of 31 mammals, including Asian elephants and the last Indochinese tigers in the region.
Over half the species documented by researchers are classified as Near Threatened, Vulnerable or Endangered on the IUCN Red List.
“It is incredibly rare to find such rich and diverse wildlife anywhere new in the world today but certainly in Southeast Asia,” said Clare Campbell, director of Wildlife Asia.
The Asiatic black bear (also known as Himalayan black bear) is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. © Karen Wildlife Conservation Initiative
The surveys were conducted by the Karen Wildlife Conservation Initiative (KWCI) with support from WWF and other partners.
Biologists were previously unable to access the region due to security and political reasons.
“It’s hugely encouraging and exciting to find a wealth of unaccounted endangered wildlife in this unexplored area of Asia,” said WWF’s Damian Fleming.
The clouded leopard is named for the ‘clouds’ on its coat. © Karen Wildlife Conservation Initiative
The camera-traps also took photos of multiple groups of poachers, showing that poaching is at a critical level in the area.
Poaching is worth an estimated £15 billion annually, and is the fourth largest international illegal trade.
There are six species of serows, which are antelope-like mammals found in central and eastern Asia. © Karen Wildlife Conservation Initiative
Myanmar’s wildlife is now facing the same threats that obliterated flora and fauna in other parts of Southeast Asia.
The country’s economy is undergoing rapid development: between 2010-2015, Myanmar had the third highest annual net loss of forest area in the world according to a Global Forest Resource Assessment by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.
Main image: Asian elephants are the continent’s largest terrestrial mammals. © Karen Wildlife Conservation Initiative