Discovering the Greater Mekong

Endangered tigers and elephants roam its forests. Its main river holds 3 times more fish species per unit area than the Amazon River. And across its vast lands, over 300 million people in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and south China call this home. This is the Greater Mekong.


A new species is discovered every 2 days on average in the Greater Mekong.

Find out more

A biological treasure trove

The Greater Mekong is home to some of the planet’s most endangered wild species, including the tiger, saola, Asian elephant, Mekong dolphin and Mekong giant catfish. Overall, the region harbours:
  • Over 430 types of mammal species
  • Over 800 reptiles and amphibian species
  • Some 1,200 bird species
  • Over 1,100 species of fish, including 4 of the world's top 10 largest freshwater fish
  • At least 20,000 plant species
Over 1,300 new species have been found in the Greater Mekong since 1997 (that’s 3 species per week on average)!

The largest combined tiger habitat on the planet

Diverse forests and jungles still cover large areas of the Greater Mekong region. Together, these forest landscapes span 540,000 km2, and make up the last stronghold for the Indochinese tiger. These are priority areas for WWF’s tiger conservation efforts.

► Find out more about tigers in the region

VIDEO: A closer look at the illegal wildlife trade in Asian big cats

The Greater Mekong’s natural resources cannot be taken for granted

Today, the Greater Mekong is under serious threat. Large-scale hydropower, rapid and poorly planned infrastructure development, climate change, wildlife trade and deforestation and are quickly undermining the region’s natural wonders and its ability to support its people.

► More about threats facing the Greater Mekong
► How is WWWF addressing those threats?
► How can you get involved to protect the Greater Mekong?

From the Tibetan plateau to the Mekong Delta

The Mekong River connects 6 countries over 4,800 km, from its origins in China’s Tibetan-Qinghai plateau to the thriving Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam, where it empties into the South China Sea.

This life-giving river holds 3 times more fish species per unit area than even the Amazon River, providing food security and livelihoods for at least 70 million people.

An estimated 2.6 million tonnes of fish are generated each year from its productive waters, making it the largest inland fishery in the world—up to 25% of the global freshwater catch.

► Find out more about the Mekong River

A home and food source for millions

People have been living in the Greater Mekong for more than 4,000 years. These lands are home to culturally diverse communities and more than 100 distinct indigenous groups.

Around 80% of the Greater Mekong's 300 million people depend on healthy natural systems such as rivers, forests and wetlands for their food security, livelihoods and customs.

► Find out more about the people living in the Greater Mekong
 / ©: WWF Greater Mekong Programme
Local woman collects fire wood at Pham Ba Thinh, Greater Annamites, Vietnam.
© WWF Greater Mekong Programme

A HUMAN PRESENCE SINCE THE IRON AGE

People have been living in the Greater Mekong region for more than 4,000 years.
These lands are home to culturally diverse communities and more than 100 distinct indigenous groups. Around 80 percent of the Greater Mekong's 300 million people depend on healthy natural systems such as rivers, forests and wetlands for their food security, livelihoods and customs.

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