A strikingly-coloured new species of pitviper has been discovered in the Seima Protection Forest, reaffirming the exceptional biological importance of this area. The Ruby-eyed Green Pitviper was collected from Seima in 2003 by the American scientist Bryan Stuart and two Cambodian government scientists, Sok Ko and Neang Thy. Years of careful study have now confirmed that this is a separate and highly localised species, known from Seima and four other nearby areas in Cambodia and southern Vietnam in the southern foothills of the Annamite mountain range.
Many other species of plant and animal are restricted to this same limited area, which is recognised as a globally important centre of endemism. The area is experiencing high levels of deforestation, hunting and other threats. Seima is one of the most important refuges for these endemic species, most notably holding key populations of two highly threatened primates, the Black-shanked Douc, and Yellow-cheeked Crested Gibbon. The snake is the latest in a long line of new species found in this region in recent years, and there are undoubtedly more awaiting discovery.
The paper describing the new snake was published recently by Anita Malhotra and colleagues in the journal Zootaxa. The paper also describes a related new species from the Cardamom Mountains.