The Mekong River. / ©: WWF

A delicate balancing act

Tigers, elephants, giant stingrays, along with thousands of other lesser known but equally threatened species form a complex web of life in the Greater Mekong's ecosystems.

With booming economies, the countries of the region must now balance legitimate needs for development while safeguarding a natural treasure that is under growing threat.

This is why WWF takes a comprehensive approach to seek this balance in the region.
 
A new species is discovered every 2 days on average in the Greater Mekong.

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What is the Greater Mekong?

The Greater Mekong spans Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the southern province of Yunnan in China. The landscapes of this vast area are just as diverse as the countries that it enshrines, from dusty savannahs to dense rainforests, and from slow-moving rivers to icy torrents.

Since 1997, over 1,500 new species have been described by science in the jungles, rivers and even urban areas of the Greater Mekong. This is in addition to rare species including crested gibbon, tigers, Mekong Irrawaddy dolphin and the elusive saola, described as the most remarkable large mammal discovery of the last 70 years.

The Greater Mekong also contains the largest combined tiger habitat in the world—540,000 km2 or roughly the size of France. But over the last 10 years or so, numbers of this amazing feline have crashed by 70% in this part of the world.

► About the Greater Mekong region
► WWF's conservation work in the Greater Mekong

A close human connection

Few places on Earth show such a strong link between human and ecosystem connectivity, as the Greater Mekong. The Mekong River basin accounts for up to 25% of the global freshwater catch, making it the world's largest inland fishery. It is a vital source of food and income for over 60 million people living there.

Protecting the Greater Mekong

The unprecedented social and economic development of the Greater Mekong makes conservation work here especially urgent, significant—and hugely challenging.

We are spearheading efforts to protect species, encouraging sustainable forestry and non-timber-forest product management, helping communities and governments with climate change adaptation, and promoting the sustainable use of freshwater resources.

With offices in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, the WWF Greater Mekong programme is working with government, industry and NGO partners to secure a future where people's daily actions support biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of natural resources—the foundation upon which depends the Greater Mekong region's quality of life for humans.
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Facts & Figures

    • Over 1,000 new species discovered between 1997 and 2007
    • The world's largest inland fishery, providing livelihoods for 60 million people
    • More than 300 million people from nearly 100 distinct ethnic groups live within the Greater Mekong region.
    • Forest cover in the Greater Mekong has fallen from over 55% in the early 1970's to 34% today.

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