Camouflage expert discovered in Cambodia

Researchers have discovered a cryptic species of gecko in the Cardamom Mountains of Cambodia, reports Fauna & Flora International (FFI), a conservation group that operates in the region.

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The new species, named Cnemaspis neangthyi after Neang Thy, a Cambodian
conservationist, was first collected during a field survey led by Dr Lee
Grismer of La Sierra University in 2007. It is characterized by a broad
flattened head and cryptic coloration that helps it blend in with rock
surfaces and tree trunks.

Neang, who runs FFI’s Cardamom Mountains Research Group and works for Cambodia’s Ministry of Environment, said the discovery highlights the need to study and protect the Cardamom region, a biodiversity trove that is under threat from agriculture, fire, and illegal logging.

“Maybe this [discovery] will also help to involve Cambodian people more in the conservation of species, landscapes and habitats,” he said in a statement. “If we do not do this, many animals in Cambodia may soon become extinct and we will not be able to show them to our children.”

The Cardamom Mountains region has been named a Global Biodiversity Hotspot and is home to at least 62 globally threatened animal and 17 globally threatened tree species. According to FFI, the Greater Cardamoms cover over 2 million hectares of forest, making it one of the largest remaining blocks of evergreen forest in Southeast Asia.