A new species to science has been discovered in the Bahuaja Sonene National Park, in Madre de Dios, which is a specific region of the Tambopata-Bahuaja Biodiversity Reserve project. The poisonous snake has been named the Bothrops Sonene, which is a tribute to the Heath River (‘Sonene’ in the native language Esa’eja).
The snake was discovered in the ‘Pampas del Heath’ location of the protected natural area, which is a highly unique, seasonally flooded savanna ecosystem surrounded by Amazon rainforest. As a result of the specific habitat conditions, there are a high number of species that are endemic to the area, and even hold species yet to be discovered. It is also very remote and therefore scarcely researched with little known about the ecosystem.
The new poisonous snake differs from other species by having a light green coloration with C-shaped spots on its back, as well as peculiar shaped scales on the head and body. It belongs to the family Viperidae (viper), which includes highly poisonous terrestrial snakes that are recorded in the North and centre of South America.
Its discovery was made during the Integral Monitoring System (IMS) for Biodiversity of the Tambopata National Reserve and the Bahuaja Sonene National Park, carried out by AIDER (our implementing partner on the ground), along with partners SERNANP (the Peruvian ministry for forestry and parks), the Zoological Society of Frankfurt (SZF), and the Natural History Museum of the National University of San Agustín de Arequipa. Together these partners undertake tasks such as setting surveillance cameras and working with researchers to improve the area’s conservation efforts.
The results were evaluated by a large number of researchers and experts from universities, museums and laboratories from across Peru, Brazil and Argentina.
The research about this new species has been published in the Zootaxa journal which specialises in the area of zoological taxonomy. You can read more here: https://www.mapress.com/j/zt/article/view/zootaxa.4565.3.1
This discovery is a win for this first of its kind IMS! In a nutshell, the IMS is responsible for the monitoring in the Tambopata-Bahuaja national park. Its purpose is to gather all the data that comes from both the park, the reserve and the anchor projects, including all the environmental, social and economic data, statistics, reports and park ranger notes. All this data is synthesised and condensed into one large report, which dictates the aims of conservation within the region. With this data they can work with SERNANP and the government of Peru to plan the objectives of the project.
It is through this monitoring system that AIDER can set the right objectives and thus training to provide the best habitat protection, monitoring and research for the project area. By all the different aspects of the project being so interconnected it provides the best possible data for these goals to be met and allows for discoveries like this one to be made and hopefully many more to come with the conservation of this beautiful piece of the Amazon.