Latest WWF Mekong Report with a foreword from Editor at ZooKeys Prof. Dr. Thomas Ziegler

02 March 2022

To provide the final touch to the WWF 2020 Mekong Report, released in late January 2022, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) reached out to Prof. Dr. Thomas Ziegler, Curator for Herpetology, Ichthyology and Invertebrates, at Cologne Zoo (Köln, Germany) and active editor, author and reviewer at ZooKeys.

The report lists a total of 224 species described as new to science in 2020, having been discovered from the Greater Mekong region, to simultaneously demonstrate the enormous biodiversity richness of the region and how crucial it is to “stop the degradation of the planet’s natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature.”

The publication puts into the spotlight 23 of those 224 species, including the bent-toed gecko Cyrtodactylus phnomchiensis, described by Wild Earth Allies’ Thy Neang and Adam Henson in collaboration with North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences' herpetologist Dr. Bryan L. Stuart. Published in ZooKeys in April 2020, the peer review of the paper was handled by Ziegler himself.

“High species richness and ongoing discovery rates also underscore the conservation importance of the Greater Mekong region and its unique inhabitants. To record this treasure trove of biodiversity before it is completely lost, we must accelerate our work and strengthen international cooperation,” writes Ziegler in his foreword.

In his interview for BBC World’s flagship programme Newshour, Thomas spoke of the large number of discoveries listed in the WWF 2020 Mekong Report as “the modern paradox”, where “on the one hand we discover more and more new species: in particular with the help of modern molecular analyses. But, on the other hand, we also lose them very quickly because of forest destruction, human settlements, agriculture or climate change.”


Photo: Prof. Dr. Thomas Ziegler holding Philippine crocodile hatchling at the Cologne Zoo's incubator room. Image courtesy of Thomas Ziegler and Cologne Zoo.

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