New animal species found in Borneo

Wildlife researchers discovered around 120 new species on Borneo, including a lungless frog, the world's longest insect and a slug that fires "love darts" at its mate.

The tropical rainforest borders Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei on Borneo and in 2007, the three governments has designated the 220,000-square-kilometre area as the "Heart of Borneo" in a bid to conserve the rainforest.

On average three new species a month and about 123 over the last three years, with at least 600 new species found in the last 15 years – these discoveries showed the wealth of biodiversity on Borneo island and may one day help cure illnesses like cancer and AIDS and contribute to our daily lives.

The "Heart of Borneo" region is home to 10 species of primate, more than 350 birds, 150 reptiles and amphibians and about 10,000 plants that are not found anywhere else in the world. Among them was a seven-centimetre (three-inch) flat-headed frog, known as "Barbourula kalimantanensis" which breathes entirely through its skin instead of lungs. The discoveries also included "Phobaeticus chani", the world's longest stick insect, with a body 36 centimetres long as well as a long-tailed slug that uses "love darts" made of calcium carbonate to pierce and inject a hormone into a mate to increase the chances of reproduction.

Indonesia and Malaysia, the world's two largest exporters of palm oil, account for 85 percent of global production. Palm oil has been used extensively across the globe for biofuel, processed food and toiletries. This has been one of the reasons for deforestation and threatened the survival of near-extinct species – e.g. the pygmy elephant, orangutan, the Sumatran rhinoceros and clouded leopard. Thus there is a need for a balance so that we have a foundation of conservation and sustainable development in order to protect this unique site for future generations.

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