Borneo’s New World: Newly Discovered Species in the Heart of Borneo

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    Borneos

    New WorldNewly Discovered Species in the Heart of Borneo

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    With this report, WWFs Initiative insupport of the Heart of Borneorecognises the work of scientistsand researchers who have dedicatedcountless hours to the discovery of

    new species in the Heart of Borneo,for the world to appreciate and in itswisdom preserve.

    Heart of Borneo Vision

    The equatorial rainforests of the Heart

    of Borneo are conserved and effectively

    managed through a network of protected

    areas, productive forests and other

    sustainable land-uses, through

    cooperation with governments, the

    private sector and civil society.

    Cover photos: Main / View of Gunung Kinabalu, Sabah Eric in S F (sic);Inset photos from left to right / Rhacophorus belalongensis Max Dehling; Dendrobium lohokii Amos Tan; Dendrelaphis kopsteini Gernot Vogel.

    A.Shapiro (WWF-US). Based on NASA, Visible Earth,ESRI, 2008 data sources.

    GernotVogel

    Dendrelaphis haasi, a new snake species

    discovered in 2008

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    That single ground breaking decision taken by the threegovernments to safeguard one of the most biologicallyrich and diverse habitats on earth, was a massivevisionary step. Its importance is underlined by thenumber and diversity of species discovered in the Heartof Borneo since the Declaration was made.

    Scientists have discovered more than 123 new species

    in the Heart of Borneo area during the past 3 years anaverage of more than 3 new species per month. Thesefascinating nds include the worlds longest known stickinsect, a ame-coloured snake and a colour-changingfrog. In total, 67 plants, 29 invertebrates, 17 sh, vefrogs, three snakes and two lizards and a brand newspecies of bird have been discovered (see Appendix).

    Heart of Borneo heart of biodiversity

    The Heart of Borneo is a global treasure teeming with

    unique and extraordinary life. Once described by CharlesDarwin as one great luxuriant hothouse made by naturefor herself, this island within an island is home to 10

    primate species, more than 350 bird species, and 150reptiles and amphibian species. In addition, a staggering10,000 plant species are sheltered by the regionsrainforests.

    Numbering among Borneos more than 200 species ofmammal are elephants, orang-utans, clouded leopard andrhinoceros, co-existing here in one of the last strongholds

    remaining for these charismatic species.

    Although the habitats inside the Heart of Borneo arecertainly exceptional they are also some of the leastexplored. As the last 3 years of independent scienticdiscovery has proven, new forms of life continue to beunearthed and the future promise of more discoveries isa tantalising one for the next generation of researchers tocontemplate. The challenge is to ensure that these

    precious landscapes are still intact for future generations.

    The Heart of Borneo Declaration is proving to be a majordriver of conservation and sustainable developmentin the region and sets forth a framework of action forBorneos threatened species and equatorial rainforestthrough a network of protected areas and responsiblymanaged forests.

    A declaration of support forbiodiversity

    In February 2007, an historic Declaration to conserve the Heart of Borneo, an area covering

    220,000km2 of irreplaceable rainforest on the worlds third largest island, was ofcially signed

    between its three governments Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia.

    WWFs Heart of Borneo Initiative

    To support the efforts of the three governments, WWFlaunched a large scale conservation initiative, one thatspans the local-to-global spectrum.

    At the local and national level, the three governmentshave mapped out a course of conservation andmanagement of the Heart of Borneo around ve

    pillars of protected area, trans-boundary andsustainable natural resource management, eco-tourismand capacity building.

    WWF is supporting these efforts in all three countries,working very closely with government agencies to turnthe paper declaration into tangible on-ground action,district by district, region by region, to full theconservation promise of the Heart of Borneo Declaration.

    Internationally,WWF is using its global network to focusefforts to support the Declaration through its Heart ofBorneo (HoB) Initiative. Amongst its many otheractivities, WWF is working with key regional forumssuch as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations(ASEAN) and regional institutions such as the AsianDevelopment Bank (ADB) to leverage support fordelivering on the HoB commitments.

    Other HoB Initiative activities include the establishmentof a Green Business Network to raise awareness in the

    private sector of the vital role it can play in deliveringconservation and sustainable development to the HoB.With an estimated 50% of land within current HoB

    boundaries in private hands, the private sector is crucialto ensuring sustainable land use.

    In order to achieve the far-reaching commitmentsenvisaged in the HoB Declaration, the HoB Initiative alsorecognises that long-term nancing schemes, equitablyshared amongst stakeholders, need to be developed.Several nancing mechanisms are being explored,

    including Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) andReducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation(REDD) to provide incentives to practice sustainableland use and encourage the implementation ofconservation measures.

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    This enormous stick insect, found near Gunung KinabaluPark, Sabah, in the Heart of Borneo measures 56.7cm orover half a metre in length. Despite its size, very little isknown about its biology and ecology, although it wasdescribed in 20081. It is believed to inhabit the highrainforest canopy making it especially elusive anddifcult to study. Also known as Chans megastick afterthe scientist that donated this particular specimen to the

    Natural History Museum in London, this species is thecurrent title holder for a number of world records. Inaddition to being the worlds longest insect, the speciesalso wins the insect world record for the longest body,measuring an impressive 35.7cm.

    Only three specimens of this extraordinary creature have

    ever been found, all of them from the Heart of Borneo.Borneo has long been known as an exciting hub formonster insects, not least the giant cockroaches thatmeasure 10cm in length and were only discovered in theHeart of Borneo in 2004.

    Phobaeticus chani was selected as one of The Top 10New Species described in 2008 by The InternationalInstitute for Species Exploration at Arizona StateUniversity and an international committee oftaxonomists2.

    Dendrelaphis kopsteini or Kopsteins Bronzebacksnake is a beautiful-looking species that can growto an impressive 1.5 metres in-length. Discovered in20073 in lowland to upland rainforest, thisuncommon new species differs from all other

    Dendrelaphis species by a bright orange, almostame-like, neck colouration that gradually fuses intoan extraordinary iridescent and vivid blue, green and

    brown pattern, that extends the entire length of thesnake. The top of the head is deep bronze, acharacteristic of all bronzeback snakes, and a darkstripe extends from the snout, across the eye, to thestart of the neck.

    When threatened, the Kopsteins bronzeback has the

    ability to are its nape, revealing bright orangecolours. Like mostDendrelaphis species, theKopsteins bronzeback has an aggressive dispositionwith a painful bite. In the wild, many inhabit treesand they hunt frogs and lizards.

    The scientists who discovered this snake, GernotVogel and Johan van Rooijen, named the snake inhonour of Felix Kopstein, an Austrian physician andherpetologist. Some weeks after the publication ofthis species, Gernot received a telephone call from

    the Netherlands. The person introduced himself asPeter Kopstein, the son of Felix Kopstein. He was 82and wanted to express his thanks for the late honourof his father, who died when Peter was young. Gernotand Felix subsequently exchanged several letters4.

    acloserlookat the new discoveries...

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    The worlds longest insect

    (Phobaeticus chani)

    A ame-coloured snake

    (Dendrelaphis kopsteini)

    OrangAsli

    GernotVog

    el

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    A zebra-striped sh

    (Eirmotus insignis)

    A remarkably striking zebra-striped sh was ofciallydescribed in 20087. The eight-banded barb, as it iscommonly-called, has been mostly recorded from the

    middle Kapuas between the towns of Sanggau andPutussibau, Kalimantan, in the Heart of Borneo.

    One of 17 sh discovered in the Heart of Borneo in recentyears, the eight-banded barb measures around 3.6cm, andtypically inhabits slow-moving, shallow, shady rainforeststreams and swamps. The water in this habitat type isoften murky, with substrate composed of mud or fallenleaves, twigs and branches. Such environments are alsooften dimly-lit due to the rainforest canopy above.

    The sh were found sheltering among overhanging treeroots and aquatic vegetation. It is noted as something of ashy, reluctant feeder.

    An elusive new bird species

    A new bird species, the Spectacled Flowerpecker, wasrecently discovered in the Danum Valley ConservationArea,