Conservation International has revealed that an expedition high up in the Bolivian Andes (the forests of Zongo Valley) was very successful as experts discovered 20 never-before-seen species and 4 rediscovered species that were previously thought to be extinct.
The expedition, which was led by the environmental group as well as the government of La Paz, consisted of 17 scientists who explored a Huaylipaya indigenous community called Chawi Grande which is located close to La Paz.
In an interview with Conservation News, biologist Trond Larsen who co-led the expedition, explained that the team identified a total of 1,204 species in the Zongo Valley with the 20 newly discovered ones including “the mountain fer-de-lance viper, the Bolivian flag snake and the lilliputian frog, as well as four orchid and four butterfly species.”
Eduardo Forno, who leads Conservation International’s work in Bolivia and who joined the expedition, weighed in by stating, “We also identified a butterfly that had not been seen for nearly a century. As a child, I visited the valley many times while traveling with my father, who was an amateur naturalist and butterfly collector — so this was a particularly exciting finding for me.”
Conservation International described the findings, “The remarkable rediscovery of species once thought extinct, especially so close to the city of La Paz, illustrates how sustainable development that embraces conservation of nature can ensure long-term protection of biodiversity.”
One of the newly discovered species was a lilliputian frog that measures just 10 millimeters long which makes it one of the smallest amphibians on the planet. “Due to their tiny size and habit of living in tunnels beneath the thick layers of moss in the cloud forest, they were difficult to find even by tracking their frequent calls,” the environmental group explained.
In addition to the tiny frog, four new species of butterflies were found – two of the species were “metalmark butterflies”.
As for the rediscovered species, one of them was the Oreobates zongoensis (or the “devil-eyed frog”) which was only witnessed once and that was more than 20 years ago. In fact, quite a few of the red-eyed, black-bodied frogs were found during the expedition.
And it wasn’t just living/breathing/walking creatures that were rediscovered as a small flowering tree called the “Alzatea verticillata” that hasn’t been seen in 127 years has finally been found again. “Numerous expeditions had been made in Bolivia to find this mysterious tree over the years. All failed until now,” Conservation International stated.
With so many species going extinct, the fact that these experts found a total of 24 new and rediscovered species is very exciting. Pictures of some of the species can be seen here.