15 December, 2008 - Published 17:11 GMT
New species discovered in the Mekong area
Dragon Millipede - picture by Somsa Panha
A Dragon Millipede

The conservation group WWF has reported that a bright pink millipede and a striped rabbit are among more than a thousand new species which have been discovered along the banks of the Mekong River in south east Asia within the last ten years. This report from Rob Norris:

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The conservationists are describing the largely unexplored jungles and wetlands in the Mekong Delta as a biological treasure trove. The discoveries, made in Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Burma and China, range from the world's largest huntsman spider, which has a leg span of thirty centimetres, to a wild banana with purple skin.

The Conservation Science Advisor to WWF, Mark Wright, says that between 1997 and 2007, scientists found an average of two previously undiscovered species every week:

Mark Wright:
"Probably my favourite is the Dragon Millipede - it's only three centimetres long - absolutely lurid pink, and it produces cyanide to try to deter predators. I mean this is a real creature with attitude here. And then there are a few other things which I think show the way science works - one, the beautifully named Laotian Rock Rat, was discovered in a local food market, so the people who live there were very aware of this creature, but science came to it very late."

They remained unknown in the outside world for so long because political conflicts in the region kept scientists away until the 1990s.

WWF is warning that the main challenge facing the area is how to allow economic development while still maintaining environmental protection.

Rob Norris, BBC

Listen to the words

people who work to protect the environment

largely unexplored 
most of the area has not been visited by scientists

a biological treasure trove
a place where there are many fantastic animals and plants which haven't been seen by scientists before

lurid pink
a very bright, strong pink colour

a very poisonous substance

to deter predators
to protect itself from animals that might want to eat it

with attitude
with an aggressive personality

wars and disagreements

maintaining environmental protection
keeping the plants and animals safe

  fantastic==excellent, wonderful

  aggressive 侵略的

  with an aggressive personality : 積極的個性



conservation 保護

striped==stripy 條紋

Mekong River 湄公河

Cambodia 柬埔寨

Burma 緬甸

Loas==Loatian 寮國(老撾)

aware 察覺的

lurid 駭人的;火紅的

cyanide 氰化物

poison 毒

predator 肉食動物

huntsman 獵人

huntsman spider 長腳蜘蛛

attitude 看法

conflict 扺觸;矛盾


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