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New Snail Species Discovered in Kinta Valley

A new species of snail has been discovered on a hill in the Kinta Valley in Perak. The snail shell was found on Gunung Kanthan, one of the major hills in the Ipoh area. The snail has been named Charopa lafargei and was given this name due to the fact that LaFarge are quarrying the limestone hill.

The snail is apparently endemic to this hill and is found nowhere else in the world, and will soon be listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List. The snail was described in a scientific journal published in the Netherlands in mid August, co-authored by a Dutch and a Malaysian scientist.

Four other species of fauna are also endemic to this hill, two of which are already listed as ‘Critically Endangered’ – the Liphistius kanthan trapdoor spider and another snail Opisthostoma trapezium. The other two are another snail and a gecko. There are also three plant species endemic to the hill. There are 9 plant species that are on Malaysia’s Red List of Endangered Plants.

The hill is already being quarried by LaFarge. This means that the future of the new snail, as well as the other endemic species is in the hands of LaFarge. It is probably the first time that a species threatened with extinction has been named after the company that can determine its fate.

Kanthan quarried side

Gunung Kanthan is also home to a wide variety of fauna and flora including some large mammals. As the hill is totally isolated by roads, a railway, industry, farmland and housing, there is nowhere for the animals to go.

Gunung Kanthan has already been identified as one of the most important limestone hills in Perak and in a 1991 survey published by MNS, it was listed as one of the four that topped the list of hills with the greatest conservation importance.In May 2012, the Mayor of Ipoh announced that 16 prominent limestone hills, with Gunung Kanthan heading the list, were important areas for their unique biodiversity and should be protected for tourism, research and recreation instead of being destroyed by mining or quarrying (NST 2012).

So the future of this hill and its flora and fauna are in the hands of  LaFarge. Currently LaFarge have made no comment on the name choice for this new snail.

Liz Price

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