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Tanzania forests yield 17 new species of amphibians and reptiles

05/01/2009 23:46:16

New species discovered on Nguru forest, Tanzania.

The Nguru Mountains of Tanzania have proved to be an endangered treasure trove of herpeto-fauna 

By Michele Menegon & Nike Doggart

January 2009. Despite the vicinity of a major road, the rainforests of the South Nguru Mountains in eastern Tanzania were virtually unexplored until 2004, particularly from a herpetological point of view.

Several surveys were conducted between 2004 and 2006 with the aim of providing a comprehensive list of the amphibian and reptile species of this overlooked hotspot of biological diversity. The surveys were carried out by Michele Menegon, a researcher from the Natural Science Museum of Trento, Italy, in collaboration with the Tanzanian NGO Tanzania Forest Conservation Group and the Frontier Tanzania Forest Research Program.

17 new species
The surveys have resulted in the discovery of 17 reptile and amphibian species new to science. These species are only known from the Nguru Mountains. Overall, the surveys recorded a total of 92 herpeto-faunal species of which 15 were species previously only known from other areas.

New species discovered in Tanzania's Nguru forest.

New species discovered in Tanzania's Nguru forest.

Conservation urgently needed
Pressure on the forests, particularly the lowland forests, remains high. A conservation planning process is now underway that is attempting to address the loss of these critically important forests. These results, documenting the high species richness and the outstanding number of endemics of the forests, strongly highlight the biological importance of the South Nguru Mountains and place them among the most important sites for the conservation of herpetofauna in Africa.

A paper summarizing the results of the surveys, is published in the current issue of the scientific journal Acta Herpetologica and can be downloaded here.

Other recent discoveries in Tanzania - New genus of monkey!

Despite being a relatively well known and studied country, there are still many surprises lurking in some of Tanzania's nooks and crannies. Recent discoveries include a New Species of Giant Elephant-Shrew and, amazingly, a new genus of monkey, the Kipunji which is critically endangered

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