Wildlife researchers said on Thursday that they have discovered 123 new species on Borneo island, including a lungless frog, the world’s longest insect and a slug that fires “love darts” at its mate. Conservation group WWF listed the new finds in a report on a remote area of dense, tropical rainforest that borders Indonesian, Malaysia and Brunei on Borneo. The three governments in 2007 designated the 220,000-square-kilometre area as the “Heart of Borneo” in a bid to conserve the rainforest, though the Indonesian military is pushing to build a railway through it, ostensibly for “economic development” but which critics say is to ramp up illegal logging. “We have been finding on average three new species a month and about 123 over the last three years, with at least 600 new species found in the last 15 years,” Adam Tomasek, head of WWF’s Heart of Borneo initiative told AFP from Brunei. “The new discoveries just show the wealth of biodiversity on Borneo island and the promise of many more future discoveries that could eventually help cure illnesses like cancer and AIDS and contribute to our daily lives,” he said. The “Heart of Borneo” region is home to 10 species of primate, more than 350 birds, 150 reptiles and amphibians and about 10,000 plants that are not found anywhere else in the world, the report said. Among the finds are a seven-centimeter (three-inch) flat-headed frog, known as the “Barbourula kalimantanensis”, discovered in 2008 and which breathes entirely through its skin instead of lungs. Researchers in the same year also discovered “Phobaeticus chani”, the world’s longest stick insect with a body 36 centimeters long. Only three specimens of the creature have ever been found. Another interesting find was a long-tailed slug that uses “love darts” made of calcium carbonate to pierce and inject a hormone into a mate to increase the chances of reproduction. “We know that it is impossible for the three governments not to have development in mining, oil palm plantations and logging in the area,” Tomasek said. “What we want to have is a balance so that we have a foundation of conservation and sustainable development in order to protect this unique site for future generations,” he added. Agence France-Presse Source: Jakarta Globe
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