Lake Inle

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Greylag goose (Anser anser).
© WWF-Canon / REY-MILLET

About the Area

Lake Inle lies 2,952 feet (900 m) above sea level on the Shan Plateau, an extensive region of high mountain ranges criss-crossed by streams and the mighty Salween River. It measures 40km from N to S, but is only 5km wide. It is surrounded by mountains and lies in the eastern hills, in the Shan state.

This relatively shallow mountain lake supports 9 endemic fish species in 3 endemic genera, and over 20 species of snails of which, one-third may be endemic.
Size:
2,500 sq. km (965 sq. miles)

Habitat type:

Small Lakes

Geographic Location:

Southern Asia: Myanmar

Conservation Status:

Vulnerable
Local Species
Lake Inle has an unusual number of species that exist nowhere else in the world. The lake is home to over 20 species of gastropods (snails) of which many are endemic. 2 cyprinid genera (Sawbwa and Inlecypris) and 16 of 31 species appear to be endemic to the lake and its tributaries.

Endemic or characteristic fish species include the Inle swamp eel (Chaudhuria caudata) and Inle barb (Sawbwa resplendens). The Inle carp is a cultural symbol of the local people and is an important food for them; unfortunately, its population has been declining in recent years.

Featured species

Inle carp (Ophiocephalus harcourt-butleri)

This fish is by far the largest in the lake attaining a weight of 10 lbs. or over. The number of spines in the dorsal fin is usually between 30 and 31 and that in the anal fin between 20 and 25. The number of scales between the orbit and the preopercular angle is 5 or 6; the number between the dorsal and the tip of the snout is 13 to 15. The ventral is less than half the length of the pectoral.

A largest specimen (frorn the Inlé Lake) was found to be 22.6 cm long, and from all accounts the species does not grow more than 25 cm long. This species is abundant all over Yawnghwe and the neighbouring states. It lives on a muddy bottom in sluggish streams and also in all parts of the Inlé Lake, hiding itself as a rule among weeds. Large numbers are sold in the local markets.

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Threats
The Lake has been drastically modified through land reclamation. Floating gardens have been constructed within the lake, and the consequent runoff of pesticides and fertilizer from these lands pollute the lake.

Sedimentation from cattle grazing and sewage disposal from surrounding lands adds to the problems. Lake Inle's health has been degraded by a wide range of conditions including cattle grazing; pesticide, fertilizer and sewage runoff; and extensive alteration of the lakebed. In some places the lake is only canals between gardens or farm plots.

Two large invasive fish species have been found in Lake Inle, Grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idellus) and Labeo rohita.

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WWF’s work
WWF's first round of priorities picked seven landscapes. This does not imply that other areas are of lesser importance, but rather that the prioritisation process reflected knowledge at that time.

Western Forest Complex, Tannantharyi - Myanmar, Thailand
This landscape straddles the Tannantharyi (Tennasserim) range on the Thailand-Myanmar border. On the Thai side are two large protected area complexes: the Western Forest Complex (WEFCOM) in the north, comprising 17 protected areas, and the Khaeng Krachan Complex in the south, which includes Khaeng Krachan National Park and Mae Nam Pachee Wildlife Sanctuary. Much of the habitat in the centre of this landscape lies in Myanmar and little is known about its biodiversity and forest conditions. Protected areas can be made more secure by maintaining linkage to other nearby habitat. The WEFCOM-Tannantharyi Landscape is important because it supports a broad range of biodiversity and a high density of tigers.

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