A new species of freshwater stingray has been discovered in a river in western Thailand, but its chances for long-term survival are slim, warns WWF.
The new species of stingray, measuring 60 centimeters (23.6 inches) in width, was first observed two years ago but has only now been confirmed in detail as a new species by researchers from WWF-Thailand and the US-based Smithsonian Institute.
WWF Thailand’s Senior Freshwater Biologist, Dr Chavalit Vidthayanon along with Smithsonian Research Associate, Dr Tyson Roberts, have described in detail the new freshwater stingray, known as Himantura kittipongi, found in the Mekong Basin of western Thailand.
Thai rivers, including the Mekong River where the ray is found, have been plagued by serious pollution, overfishing and dam building which have taken a deadly toll on Thailand's once diverse and abundant river life. The ray is believed to exist in only small numbers.
The new species was named Himantura kittipong after prominent Thai fish expert Kittipong Jaruthanin who first observed the ray in 2004.