Published: Tuesday 15 April 1997

A wealth of information on new species in Hong Kong has come to light with the start of the first territory-wide biodiversity survey, which aims to identify the regions where various fauna and flora species are found. The survey is being conducted by Hong Kong University researchers who hope to raise awareness about the astounding richness and diversity of the territory's wildlife.

Wildlife is fast disappearing from the region. Tigers roamed the territory only 50 years ago and like the leopard, the South China tiger was a winter visitor to Hong Kong earlier this century. Besides, creatures like the South China fox, the water monitor and dugongs in-habited the pristine land and water of Hong Kong. Now, the broadleaf woodlands of the Guangdong province have been seriously depleted.

Yet, the territory still houses abundant floral and faunal rarities that are globally endangered. As such the Mai Po marshes nature reserve has been declared a Ramsar site.

Besides, Hong Kong has more coral species than the Caribbean and houses 13 globally endangered birds. David Melville, executive director, World Wide Fund for Nature-Hong Kong, said that recently crabs, snails and worms new to science had been found in the mudflats of Deep Bay.

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