Lankan experts find 35 new frog species

Agence France Presse

Colombo, June 29:

Conservationists in Sri Lanka, the world’s top spot for frogs, have discovered 35 new species of the amphibians — only to find that another 19 species have died out. Sri Lanka’s Wildlife Heritage Trust, in a report to be published tomorrow, blames habitat loss on the tropical island for the die-off.

“The ravages of habitat loss in Sri Lanka’s once rain-forested wet zone have been severe, and there is a compelling argument for intensive conservation of the surviving forest,” the Trust’s Rohan Pethiyagoda said.

In a decade-long study, they found evidence of 35 new frog species, confirming the Indian Ocean island as the world’s number one spot for frogs, with more than 200 known species, ahead of rainforest-rich, biodiverse Costa Rica, Pethiyagoda told AFP.

They also found other previously unknown biodiversity — 50 new snail species, 16 new crabs, seven new lizards and an as yet unknown species of mouse deer, he said.

In another contribution to the Raffles Bulletin, biologist Benito C Tan said he had in the past few years discovered five new mosses in two little-known mountain forests in central Sri Lanka. Tan, from the biological science department at the university, said the discovery had “meaningful phytogeographical significance.” The conservationists, however are more worried about the threat to wildlife habitat and rainforests. According to the IUCN, 19 of the 34 amphibian species identified as extinct worldwide are from Sri Lanka, he said.