‘Cloud Forest’ in The Misty Mountains of Bolivia Reveals 20 Species New to Science

A mist-shrouded ‘cloud forest’ panorama nestled within the foothills of the Bolivian Andes has revealed 20 species beforehand unknown to science, together with a bounty of rediscovered animals and vegetation not seen in years, a long time, and even over a century in some instances.


In the middle of a large scientific expedition into the Zongo Valley – positioned about 3,000 metres (10,000 toes) above sea stage within the jap reaches of the Cordillera Actual mountain vary – researchers catalogued greater than 1,200 species in complete, 770 of which had by no means been seen on this a part of the world earlier than.

“These discoveries are the results of 14 days of intense subject work unfold throughout the rugged terrain, misty cloud forests and cascading waterfalls of the Zongo,” says biologist Trond Larsen from Conservation Worldwide’s Speedy Evaluation Program (RAP), who co-led the expedition of virtually 20 researchers from each Bolivian and worldwide establishments.

“This space has change into a secure haven for amphibians, reptiles, butterflies, and vegetation that have not been discovered wherever else on Earth.”

The Andean mountains of the Zongo Valley. (© Trond Larsen)

What’s outstanding, along with the sheer multitude of life discovered contained in the valley, is how shut this hidden haven is to Bolivia’s human society.

Whereas the Zongo’s elevated surrounds take each effort and time to trek into, it is principally on the doorstep of La Paz, a significant metropolis that can be one of many nation’s two capitals.


“Think about a bustling city centre crammed with individuals simply 50 kilometres (31 miles) away from an untouched valley overflowing with biodiversity,” Larsen advised Conservation Worldwide.

That sort of human proximity tends to place damaging strain on pure ecosystems, and the Zongo Valley is not any completely different. The most important risk is land clearing for farming functions, which encroaches on the pure habitat and will put the species dwelling contained in the valley in danger.

With a view to stopping that, the Conservation Worldwide workforce, working with each La Paz’s and rural communities – and with the cooperation of the native Huaylipaya group who dwell inside the Zongo – has now launched the outcomes of their expedition: a complete organic evaluation of the valley’s biodiversity.

The purpose is to assist body a sustainable method to managing the cloud forest: one which advantages all Bolivia’s life-forms, each human and never.

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The ‘mountain fer-de-lance’ pit viper. (© Trond Larsen)

The latter group, in spite of everything, contains some actually superb specimens, a lot of which have by no means beforehand been documented by scientists.

Amongst these, the lilliputian frog (Noblella sp. nov.) may qualify because the smallest amphibian within the Andes, measuring simply 10 mm in size (about half the width of a dime).


The researchers additionally found a brand new species of venomous pit viper, known as the mountain fer-de-lance (Bothrops monsignifer), and the slender-looking Bolivian flag snake (Eutrachelophis sp. nov.), which wears the nation’s nationwide colors (crimson, yellow, and inexperienced).

As well as, the workforce recognized 4 new butterfly species, 4 new orchid species, and a kind of bamboo by no means scientifically documented, however which is utilized by indigenous communities for musical devices.

A number of species discovered within the Zongo Valley represent rediscoveries of animals and vegetation not seen for a really very long time.

“One in every of our most enjoyable findings was truly the rediscovery of Oreobates zongoensis – a ‘devil-eyed’ frog, which has solely ever been noticed as soon as and was considered extinct,” Larsen says.

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The ‘devil-eyed’ frog, Oreobates zongoensis. (© Steffen Reichle)

“We additionally recognized a butterfly that had not been seen for almost a century,” says conservation biologist Eduardo Forno of Conservation Worldwide-Bolivia, referring to the satyr butterfly (Euptychoides fida).

“As a toddler, I visited the valley many occasions whereas travelling with my father, who was an novice naturalist and butterfly collector – so this was a very thrilling discovering for me.”


Within the researchers’ travels, they hiked their method up some 3,000 metres (virtually 2 miles) of elevation, discovering new populations dwelling at completely different tiers of the forest.

Along with animal species, the workforce discovered virtually 750 plant species throughout the evaluation, at the very least 13 of that are unknown, together with two vegetation that hadn’t been seen by scientists in over 100 years.

It is a staggering reunion of types, between people and long-hidden parts of the pure world. However it would take plenty of cautious work and planning from right here on out, if Zongo’s valuable wonders are to be preserved into the following centuries and past.

“Our purpose is to guard this land whereas it’s nonetheless comparatively pristine,” Larsen says. “We owe it to future generations to maintain it that method.”

The total report is obtainable on Conservation Worldwide’s web site.


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