Human activity has various devastating effects on the environment, and scientists keep warning us that unless we take immediate measures to stop climate change and start taking better care of the planet, we would soon say goodbye to numerous plant and animal species.
However, a discovery in 2017 had some encouraging news for us all -- scientists discovered a great amount of biodiversity in a previously unexplored area of the rainforest in Honduras.
After the discovery of ancient ruins deep within the Mosquitia forest, dubbed “the lost city of the monkey god”, or “the white city”, researchers from the Conservation International went on a three-week research expedition there.
For more than half a millennium, the ancient place has remained untouched, after the ancestors of the indigenous Pech people quickly left the city.
What researchers found there was a thriving ecosystem, rich in rare and unique species, some considered extinct, and some never discovered before.
In one particular area, called City of the Jaguar, they found at least three species believed to have been extinct, one previously undocumented fish, and numerous other amphibians and mammals that are threatened with extinction.
Among the most notable were the pale-faced bat, the tiger beetle, which was thought to be extinct and had only ever been recorded in Nicaragua, and the false tree coral snake, which had not been seen in Honduras since 1965.
They later reported that many of these species are rare or uncommon in other parts “due to habitat loss, degradation, hunting and other pressures.”
They documented 180 plant species, 198 species of birds, 94 of butterflies, 40 of small mammals, 56 of amphibians and reptiles, 30 of large mammals.
Trond Larsen, Director of Conservation International’s Rapid Assessment Program, (RAP), said:
“Our team of scientists were shocked at the discovery of tremendously rich biodiversity, including many rare and threatened species. The ‘White City’ is one of the few areas remaining in Central America where ecological and evolutionary processes remain intact.”
Fortunately, the Mosquitia rainforest is the biggest contiguous protected area in Latin America north of the Amazon, but he believes this might not be enough, as it is “very difficult to enforce protection.”
He added that often, “this illegal activity is being driven tangentially by drug trafficking, so it’s driven by powerful people with money.”
Biodiversity is so important as the more productive it is, the more sustainable all life forms will be.
If people cannot stop the pace of wildlife extinction, it will soon be extinct itself. We depend on the services provided by ecosystems, like pollinations, freshwater, food, medicine, soil fertility, and stability.
Protecting nature and maintaining the health of biodiversity is a crucial part of the solution to climate change.
Also, at least forty percent of the world’s economy is derived from biological resources, and the survival of many of the poorest communities around the globe rely on the biodiversity of the area.
Therefore, Conservation International believes that their findings will help the protection of the region from deforestation.
“Overall, our findings demonstrate that the area is of global environmental as well as archaeological significance. Armed with this knowledge, stakeholders can now begin to design and implement conservation strategies to protect this critical ecosystem.”
Dr John Polisar, a member of the RAP expedition team, added:
“We have been doing field work in the indigenous territories of La Mosquitia for 14 years, and this site stood out as being simply gorgeous. Because of its presently intact forests and fauna the area is of exceptionally high conservation value. It merits energetic and vigilant protection so its beauty and wildlife persist into the future.”