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Lost forest yields several new species

An expedition led by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) to a remote corner of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has uncovered unique forests which, so far, have been found to contain six animal species new to science: a bat, a rodent, two shrews, and two frogs. The forested regionincluding the Misotshi-Kabogo Forest (formerly Mt. Kabobo)and nearby Marunga Massif is located just west of Lake Tanganyika and has been off limits to scientists since 1960 as a result of continued instability in the area.

If we can find six new species in such a short period it makes you wonder what else is out there, said WCS researcher Dr. Andrew Plumptre, director of the societys Albertine Rift Program.

The forest survey was conducted between January and March of 2007, and included participants from WCS, the Field Museum in Chicago, the National Centre of Research and Science in Lwiro, and the World Wildlife Fund: the global conservation organization (WWF).

In spite of the conflict and related degradation in the area, the survey team found that some 1,000 square kilometers have remained intact, from the shores of Lake Tanganyika up to elevations of 2,725 meters above sea level. In addition to the new animal species, the survey found that the region of gallery forests and woodlands is extremely rich in biodiversity, containing a number of large mammals such as chimpanzees, bongos, buffalo, elephants, leopards, several types of monkey including a subspecies of colobus only found here, and others, although most of these large-bodied species were found at low densities, probably due to poaching. The survey also found a high diversity of birds, reptile, and amphibian species.

The expedition may also yield a number of new plant species; survey botanists were unable to identify some 10 percent of the collected samples, which will be sent to specialists in the near future. Given the findings with the vertebrates, it is likely that
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Contact: John Delaney
jdelaney@wcs.org
718-220-3275
Wildlife Conservation Society
7-Aug-2007


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