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WWF expedition makes discoveries in the Amazon


29 Jun 2006, Juruena National Park, Brazil – A WWF expedition into the newly created Juruena National Park deep in the Amazon forest has revealed several potentially new species to science.

Following a preliminary survey, expedition scientists from Brazil’s National Institute for Amazon Research and the Amazonas Secretariat for the Environment and Sustainable Development discovered two new frog, fish and bird species, one tree species and one primate.

“These are exciting discoveries,” said Claudio Maretti, WWF-Brazil’s Coordinator for Protected Areas.

“But to confirm that the species are really new to science we have to carry out a series of tests,” he cautioned. “This will be done as soon as the expedition comes to a close.”

Identification of some endemic flora and fauna species was anticipated by most of the researchers visiting the area, which is difficult to access and has hardly been studied up to the present day.

In addition to these potentially new scientific discoveries, experts on the expedition came across 200 species of birds, ocelots (wild cats), and a pink dolphin.

“Finding a pink dolphin was a complete surprise since we didn’t imagine that this animal lived in the area,” Maretti said.

The Amazon river dolphin, one of the world’s three freshwater dolphins, is widely distributed throughout much of the Amazon and Orinoco river basins. Its habitat, however, is threatened by river development projects, and is classified as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

In addition to the river dolphin, there are at least 40,000 plant species, 427 mammals, including jaguars, anteaters and giant otters, 1,294 birds, 378 reptiles, 427 amphibians and around 3,000 fish found in the Amazon.

Covering 1.9 million hectares, the establishment of the Juruena National Park is part of ongoing efforts to support the Amazon Region Protected Areas (ARPA) Programme, a large-scale conservation programme aimed at creating and supporting a system of well-managed protected areas and sustainable natural resource management reserves in the Amazon.

ARPA is a partnership between the Brazilian government, the World Bank, Global Environment Facility, German Development Bank, Brazilian Biodiversity Fund and WWF.

The Juruena National Park expedition was an initiative of WWF-Brazil’s Protected Areas Programme, together with Brazil’s Institute for the Environment and Natural Renewable Resources (IBAMA); the Amazonas Secretariat for the Environment and Sustainable Development (SDS-AM), with support from ICV (Centro da Vida Institute) and WWF-Germany.


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