Dilmah Conservation launches project identification of novel species in collaboration with Herpetological Foundation of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is one of the biodiversity hotspots in the world. Within this landscape of rich biodiversity, lies a wealth of information waiting to be discovered. But on the contrary most of these species, particularly the endemic ones are at a very high risk of extinction. Many of them become extinct without ever being discovered or documented; taking with them all that knowledge, which, if made available, could help global conservation efforts. For instance of the total number of amphibian species in the world, 35 species have been declared extinct out of which a staggering 60% are endemic to Sri Lanka (IUCN Red List, 2007).
Dilmah Conservation in collaboration with Herpetological Foundation of Sri Lanka has implemented a project on identification of new species of Herpetofauna, which will generate scientific evidence on their existence and promote conservation. Under this project a large number of novel species await taxonomic descriptions and most of the habitats of these species are under severe anthropogenic pressures. Some may even be hyper endemic; meaning any adverse effect which might change or destroy their habitats might even result in their complete extinction. Hence they are categorised as “threatened” according to IUCN Red List criteria. Given these critical circumstances, there is an urgency to publish these species to manage our ecosystems sustainably, in order to conserve the biodiversity and their habitats.
The first new species to be identified as result of this research project, is a species of Polypedates Tschudi (Amphibia, Anura, Phacophoridae), which is a tree frog species which has been recorded from the Gilimale forest reserve in the Sabaragamuwa Province of Sri Lanka. This large-sized tree frog has been named as Polypedates ranwellai which is uniquely characterised from its congeners by its skull formation and teeth orientation among many other features (Wickramasinghe, Munindradasa, & Fernando, 2012). As per natural history notes, its habitats are found in lowland forests. However, high rates of deforestation and anthropogenic activities at the type locality threaten their survival.
Urgent action from scientists and mandated authorities is crucial in protecting these species and their habitats in order to avert them from extinction. The new knowledge gathered through these novel species will help gain better knowledge which will enable us to make sound decisions and share with the rest of the community. This will lead to better policy making, to device management plans for promoting conservation of those species and their habitats and help declare Sri Lanka as a megabiodiversity country.
The Ministry of Environment of Sri Lanka and Nago Natural Environment Foundation of Japan has collaborated with Dilmah Conservation and Herpetological Foundation of Sri Lanka in this effort. For a detailed description of the new species and further information refer the article published in Zootaxa Journal cited as:
For details and updates on our ongoing conservation efforts visit, www.dilmahconservation.org