380 new species of Vertebrate Animals and Vascular Plants were described in the region by science in Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.

© Nguyen Thien Tao

Researchers in the Greater Mekong region have made remarkable discoveries in recent years, uncovering a wealth of new species, which includes a thick-thumbed bat; a new poisonous krait named after a snake goddess from Chinese mythology; a gecko discovered near Vientiane capital; a cutthroat eel, only the third of its species described in its genus; and a ginger-like plant dispersed by ants. Through their exploration of remote habitats and examination of preserved specimens, they have revealed a dazzling array of life forms. These discoveries, documented since 1997, have brought the total number of documented species in the region to an astounding 3,389. Specific to Laos, 40 and 13 new species of vascular plants and vertebrate animals were discovered in 2021 and 2022 respectively.


The annual discovery of new species in the Greater Mekong region not only underscores the significance of preserving its natural ecosystems but also reflects the unwavering dedication of biological explorers. It serves as a powerful reminder of the urgent need to protect both species and habitats. Without substantial conservation measures, we risk losing the invaluable biodiversity that sets our region apart. However, through collaborative efforts involving governments, scientists, NGOs, and local communities, we have the power to safeguard these incredible new species.


The report documents the work of hundreds of scientists from universities, conservation organizations and research institutes around the world who discovered 290 plants, 19 fishes, 24 amphibians, 46 reptiles and one mammal in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam.

(Download the report from the link below)

© Dr. Luu Quang Vinh
These species are an indicator of the health of our ecosystems – protecting them and their habitats ensures clean water, clean air, ecotourism opportunities, and productive fisheries, farms and local economies. Many species go extinct before they are even discovered, so all of us must do everything in our power to protect them and their habitats.

If we lose these magnificent species, we lose so much of what makes the Greater Mekong such a rich, amazing storehouse of biodiversity.


"Even though reptiles and amphibians may not get as much love from the public, the discovery of these species in Laos represents an amazing biodiversity that is just waiting to be uncovered," said Dr. Akchousanh Rasphone, Wildlife Lead & Chief Conservation Scientist, WWF-Laos. "One of these species - the gecko Dixonius somchanhae - is not only endemic to Laos, it was discovered in Vientiane Capital - right under our noses!"


This beautiful miniature orchid - a new Laotian species, is an unusual discovery: it was identified as a new species from a nursery collection, but attempts to find it in the wild have so far proved unsuccessful.

© Keooudone Souvannakhoummane