Mekong - Lancang

Length roughly 4,600 Km
Basin size 805,604 Km2
Population 57,197,884 people
Population density 71 people/ Km2
Key economic activity Fishing, aquaculture, agriculture and natural resource harvesting
Threats Over-fishing, illegal fishing, large infrastructure, deforestation, changes in sediment transport patterns and toxics from agriculture
Importance
The Mekong river basin is the largest in Southeast Asia. It is the 10th largest in the world by volume, draining an area more than twice the size of Germany.

Unlike many major rivers in Asia, this river and its flood regime are relatively intact. As a result, the lower Mekong basin is the most productive river fishery in the world.

Freshwater fisheries here have a commercial value exceeding US$1.7 billion and provide 80% of the animal protein consumed by 55 million inhabitants. Not surprisingly, the lower Mekong countries have some of the highest dependence on inland capture fisheries in the world.

Location
Rising in the mountains of China’s Qinghai province near Tibet, it flows south. It forms the border between Laos and Myanmar (Burma), most of the border between Laos and Thailand, and moves across Cambodia and southern Vietnam into a rich delta which opens to the South China Sea.

Species
The basin is home to an amazing 1,200-1,700 fish species, the highest fish diversity in any basin after the Amazon and Congo. Sixty-two fish species are found nowhere else in the world.

This river harbours more species of giant fish than any other on the Earth as well as the largest freshwater fish known to science, the Mekong Giant Catfish. There are over 160 known amphibian species, and 5 Ramsar wetlands of international significance.

The basin is also home to the Irrawaddy dolphin, the Mekong population of which is critically endangered (WRI 2003).

The exceptional fishery in the Mekong River is based on the ecological boost provided by the annual wet season flood of its extensive floodplain, particularly the back flow of the river into the Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia.

The scale of this beneficial flooding and consequent fish harvest is threatened by the present and potential impoundment of floodwaters behind 58 existing and 149 proposed large dams, and by roads in the floodplains.


For references please download the pdf of the report
 / ©: WWF
Map of the Mekong River. Click on the map to enlarge.
© WWF
 / ©: WWF
Threat to the River: over-fishing
© WWF
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Zeb Hogan
The Mekong River's giant catfish can reach a maximum size of 3m in length and 300kg in weight.
© WWF-Canon / Zeb Hogan

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