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'Expedition Everest' Finds New Species

ortant source for cancer drugs (Taxus wallichiana). Adding an additional element of danger, the team was also forced to dodge the Giant Asian Hornet (Vespa mandarinia), which local villages have named the 'Yak Killer' for its deadly sting.

A select team from the mission also had the thrill of observing the world's only fully habituated troop of golden monkeys (Rhinopithecus roxellana), which is the region's largest living primate and the country's No. 2 flagship species after the giant panda. The full results from the expedition will be shared with numerous entities, such as the Chinese government, environmental organizations and scientists to develop conservation strategies to protect the unique species of the region. During the two-month expedition, the team explored six different sites in the Mountains of Southwest China and Himalaya Biodiversity Hotspots. The biodiversity hotspots are 34 regions worldwide where 75 percent of the planet's most-threatened mammals, birds, and amphibians survive within habitat covering just 2.3 percent of the Earth's surface (roughly equivalent to the combined areas of the five largest U.S. states). Fully 50 percent of the Earth's vascular plants and 42 percent of terrestrial vertebrates exist only in these 34 hotspots. Hotspots face extreme threats and have already lost at least 70 percent of their original vegetation. "Being part of the Mission Himalayas team has given us all a renewed sense of hope for conservation efforts in this region of the world," said expedition scientific team member Dr. Anne Savage, senior conservation biologist at Disney's Animal Kingdom. "Having seen how the sacred lands project has integrated cultural needs and conservation priorities, resulting in the discovery of new species, and having the opportunity to see how golden monkeys–which were severely threatened by poaching and habitat destruction–are now thriving, it is clear that local communities, conservation organizations, and governmental
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