Threatened species in the Mekong River Ecoregion include mammals such as the iconic Irrawaddy dolphin and gigantic fish like Mekong giant catfish, giant carp, and giant freshwater stingray, all of which can exceed 200 kg in weight. Consequently, although the Mun and Chi basins drain 15% of the entire Mekong basin, they only contribute 6% of the average annual flow. Khon Pi Long is a series of rapids along a 1.6-kilometre section of the Mekong River dividing Chiang Rai and Bokeo Province in Laos. In: Renaud, F. G. and C. Kuenzer (eds. © WWF-Greater Mekong / WWF-Cambodia SWAP team, © 1986 Panda Symbol WWF – World Wide Fund For Nature (formerly World Wildlife Fund), http://greatermekong.panda.org/responsibletravel, 2,216 new species were discovered in the Greater Mekong subregion, Find out about ongoing new species discoveries in the Greater Mekong, More about tigers in the Greater Mekong region. Fish Species in Mekong Rises in the eastern Tibethan Plateau, passes through China, Myanmar, Laos PDR, Thailand and Kampuchea before it drains into the South China Sea (Ref. [13], Loss of forest cover in the Thai areas of the lower basin has been the highest of all the lower Mekong countries over the past 60 years. Yellow-cheeked Crested Gibbon, Nomascus gabriellae. The Second Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge connects Mukdahan to Savannakhet. The drop is due primarily to habitat degradation, bycatch, pollution and climate change. Asian elephant [12], Flows at Chiang Saen entering the lower basin from Yunnan make up about 15% of the wet season flow at Kratie. The Mekong is also home to some of the world’s largest freshwater animal species. Increasing awareness about their plight and importance is key to saving the 5 remaining river dolphin species in South America and Asia. The flow level falls again, even with the right bank entry of the Mun-Chi system from Thailand. Other Countries Suffered a Drought", "Potential Disruption of Flood Dynamics in the Lower Mekong River Basin Due to Upstream Flow Regulation", "There are 8.3 billion tons of plastic in the world", "Almost all plastic in the ocean comes from just 10 rivers", "Dams and Climate Change Kill the Mekong", The WISDOM Project, a Water related Information System for the Mekong Delta, CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food-Mekong, Mekong Program on Water, Environment and Resilience, Countries of the Mekong River: The Greater Mekong Subregion, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Mekong&oldid=997467576#River_modifications, Articles with dead external links from August 2018, Articles with permanently dead external links, Articles with dead external links from June 2017, Articles with dead external links from July 2017, Articles containing Chinese-language text, Articles containing Burmese-language text, Articles containing Vietnamese-language text, Articles containing Standard Tibetan-language text, Articles containing simplified Chinese-language text, Articles containing traditional Chinese-language text, Wikipedia articles needing page number citations from December 2015, Articles containing potentially dated statements from January 2020, All articles containing potentially dated statements, Articles with unsourced statements from February 2020, Wikipedia articles with WORLDCATID identifiers, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, Middle Stretches of the Mekong River north of, The section of the river flowing through deep gorges in. Irrawaddy dolphins leaping in Thai section of the Mekong. [57] Local groups have countered that native inhabitants already operate their boats year-round and that the plan to blast the rapids is not about making life better for local people, but about enabling year-round traffic of large Chinese commercial boats. Conservationists have found a nest of the endangered Asian giant softshell turtle on a Mekong River sandbar in northeastern Cambodia, while 115 new species … Kuenzer, C. and F. G. Renaud (2012): Climate Change and Environmental Change in River Deltas Globally. The Mekong Conservation Heroes program is part of the Wonders of the Mekong project funded by USAID. This rises to 40% during the dry season, even this far downstream. After 3.5 ka, however, the delta had built out beyond the embayment and became subject to wave action and marine currents. Its estimated length is 4,350 km (2,703 mi), and it drains an area of 795,000 km 2 (307,000 sq mi), discharging 475 km 3 (114 cu mi) of water annually. Kuenzer, C., I. Campbell, M. Roch, P. Leinenkugel, V. Q. Tuan and S. Dech (2012): Understanding the impact of hydropower developments in the context of upstream–downstream relations in the Mekong river basin. [12], In a large river system like the Mekong, seasonal flows can be quite variable from year to year. Only the Amazon boasts a higher level of bio-diversity. endangered and charismatic wild species including tiger, Asian elephant, Mekong dolphin and Mekong giant catfish, in addition to hundreds of newly discovered species. The seasonal variations in water level directly affect trade in this section of the river. During the wet season, the proportion of average flow coming from Yunnan rapidly decreases downstream of Chiang Saen, from 70% to less than 20% at Kratie. In: Renaud, F. G. and C. Kuenzer (eds. Interdisciplinary Analyses of a River Delta. The Mekong River has 877 identified freshwater fish species. The Third Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge opened for traffic on 11 November 2011, connecting Nakhon Phanom Province (Thailand) and Thakhek (Laos), as part of Asian Highway 3. In spite of poor fertility, however, agriculture is intensive. Water pollution impacts the river's ecological integrity as a result. The saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) once ranged from the Mekong Delta up the river into Tonle Sap and beyond but is now extinct in the river, along with being extinct in all of Vietnam and possibly even Cambodia. The Mekong, or Mekong River, is a trans-boundary river in East Asia and Southeast Asia. [12] As elsewhere in the basin, forest cover has been steadily reduced during the last three decades by shifting agriculture and permanent agriculture. Migration status is known for only 24% of those species, and of those, 87% are migratory . The second phase (2020–2025) involves navigational improvements from Simao in China to 243 border posts in China and Myanmar, a distance of 259 km. The Mekong River has 877 identified freshwater fish species. Kuenzer, C., H. Guo, J. Huth, P. Leinenkugel, X. Li and S. Dech (2013): Flood Mapping and Flood Dynamics of the Mekong Delta. The most important and abundant resource of the Mekong River is water and biodiversity. The mean annual flow entering the lower Mekong from China is equivalent to a relatively modest 450 mm depth of runoff. As of 2013, Cambodian volunteers are being trained, with the support of the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement within the US State Department Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, to conduct underwater explosive removal. The Mekong River provides water, food and energy security for a population of about 70 million people, for most of whom the staple diet is rice, fish, and other aquatic animals. [12] Sandy and saline soils are the most common soil types, which makes much of the land unsuitable for wet rice cultivation. It is 1,380 meters (4,528 ft) long, and was completed in 2000. The Mekong Fish Database developed by the Mekong River Commission provides the most comprehensive data source on Mekong fishes, although it does not include any information on species from areas upstream of Yunnan and in Myanmar. The second group are those on the right bank, mainly the Mun and Chi Rivers, that drain a large part of northeast Thailand. giant freshwater fish species can be found in the Mekong River which flows through Cambodia, China, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. Major tributary systems develop in the lower basin. This is the beginning of the Mekong Delta. Muntjac Cần Thơ Bridge crosses the second channel—the right, main distributary of the Mekong, the Bassac (Song Hau). Adult fish occur in both Chiang Rai and Loei Provinces in Thailand, and young fish … In the Central Highlands of Vietnam, forest cover was reduced from over 95% in the 1950s to around 50% in the mid-1990s. Dams on the Mekong River have had a negative impact on the migratory giant catfish. One campaign in particular that he takes special pride in involved the efforts to protect Cantor’s Giant Softshell Turtle, an endangered species inhabiting the Mekong River and the largest freshwater turtle in the world. [3], As an international river, a number of agreements exist between the countries that share the Mekong to enable trade and passage between them. ): The Mekong Delta System. [39][43][44][45] An estimated two million tonnes of fish are landed a year, in addition to almost 500,000 tonnes of other aquatic animals. [3] The volume of this trade is expected to increase by 8–11% per year. [12] From here on downstream the terrain is flat and water levels rather than flow volumes determine the movement of water across the landscape. The bridge opened for traffic on 11 December 2001. ENVISAT-ASAR-WSM Based Time-Series Analyses. Narrower and more turbulent sections of water in the upstream parts of the Mekong River, coupled with large annual water level variations continue to present a challenge to navigation. The Mun-Chi river system from the right bank in Thailand enters the mainstream within this reach. [3] Thailand imports a wide variety of products from China, including vegetables, fruit, agricultural products, and fertilisers. The species is considered virtually extinct in the wild with numbers estimated between 50 and 4,000 in Thailand due to habitat destruction and hunting for skins. [12], Reach 4: Pakse to Kratie. (2017). The first systematic European exploration began with the French Mekong Expedition led by Ernest Doudard de Lagrée and Francis Garnier, which ascended the river from its mouth to Yunnan between 1866 and 1868. Together, these rivers make up the largest hydrological sub-component of the lower basin. They urge an immediate moratorium on new construction and a shift to solar and other forms of renewable energy, already highly competitive and faster to install.[69]. It is the world’s third most diverse fish population, with 1,148 fish species, after the Amazon and Congo river basins. These mother vessels sail directly to Europe or the United States, which means that goods can be shipped internationally to and from Phnom Penh with only a single transshipment at Cai Mep. He told The Post on December 23 that the conservation work and experience he has accrued over the past 13 years is what makes him effective in carrying out conservation work along the Mekong River and in assisting the people in the communities there. [56], Critics fear that China's ability to control the Mekong's flow gives it leverage over downstream nations who rely on China's goodwill. This has implications for the occurrence of drought conditions. [3] In 2009, Mekong trade received a significant boost with the opening of a new deep-water port at Cai Mep in Vietnam. Then the Mekong meets the China–Myanmar border and flows about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) along that border until it reaches the tripoint of China, Myanmar and Laos. However, the hydrological impacts of land cover changes induced by the Vietnam War were quantified in two sub-catchments of the lower Mekong River basin. This reach is almost entirely mountainous and covered with natural forest although there has been widespread slash and burn agriculture. Mekong is originally called Mae Nam Khong from a contracted form of Tai shortened to Mae Khong. Among other wetland mammals that have been living in and around the river are the smooth-coated otter (Lutra perspicillata) and fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus). Kuenzer, C., P. Leinenkugel, M. Vollmuth and S. Dech (2014): Comparing global land-cover products – implications for geoscience applications: an investigation for the trans-boundary Mekong Basin. Wild capture fisheries are largely open access fisheries, which poor rural people can access for food and income. water purification) benefits to people, supporting local economies and livelihoods across the basin. Nonetheless, the parts of the basin in northern Laos, northern Thailand, Myanmar and China do experience frequent earthquakes and tremors. The flow of the Mekong River is plentiful, cultivating vast wetlands and forests, transporting and supplying construction materials, medicines, and food. "China could, in short, use its dams to 'weaponize water'". Here the mainstream divides into a complex and increasingly controlled and artificial system of branches and canals. Mekong River region is famous for its extremely diverse ecology systems with about 20,000 species of plants, 1,300 species of fish, 1,200 species of birds, 800 species of snakes and frogs and 430 species of mammals. Crested gibbon The obvious conclusion is that the current model for sharing the Mekong river’s resources is very far from sustainable — and that urgent action is needed to chart a new course for the river, which will underpin the region’s sustainable development rather than undermine it. [32], New species are regularly described from the Mekong. [12], The internal drainage patterns of the Mekong are unusual when compared to those of other large rivers. The Prek Tamak Bridge, 40 km north of Phnom Penh opened in 2010. The upper basin makes up 24% of the total area and contributes 15–20% of the water that flows into the Mekong River. [25] At this time the delta was advancing at a rate of 17–18 m per year. Species under threat in the region include the Irrawaddy Dolphin, the Indochinese Tiger, and the Asian Elephant. Approximately 4350 km in length and originating high in the Tibetan plateau, it passes through six countries: China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. This makes the Mekong second to only the Amazon for the variety of fish species present. Wild capture fisheries play the most important role in supporting livelihoods. Douc Langur Dordrecht: Springer, pp. Between 1997 and 2009 an incredible 1,376 species were discovered by science across this region alone 1,2,3. The species is considered virtually extinct in the wild with numbers estimated between 50 and 4,000 in Thailand due to habitat destruction and hunting for skins. The cumulative impacts of these activities on the river regime have not been measured. [3] Fisheries contribute significantly to a diversified livelihood strategy for many people, particularly the poor, who are highly dependent on the river and its resources for their livelihoods. The dhole is a competitor to the leopard. The Mekong rises as the Za Qu (Tibetan: .mw-parser-output .uchen{font-family:"BabelStone Tibetan Slim",Jomolhari,"Noto Sans Tibetan","Microsoft Himalaya",Kailash,"DDC Uchen","TCRC Youtso Unicode","Tibetan Machine Uni","Qomolangma-Uchen Sarchen","Qomolangma-Uchen Sarchung","Qomolangma-Uchen Suring","Qomolangma-Uchen Sutung","Qomolangma-Title","Qomolangma-Subtitle","DDC Rinzin","Qomolangma-Woodblock","Qomolangma-Dunhuang"}.mw-parser-output .ume{font-family:"Qomolangma-Betsu","Qomolangma-Chuyig","Qomolangma-Drutsa","Qomolangma-Edict","Qomolangma-Tsumachu","Qomolangma-Tsuring","Qomolangma-Tsutong","TibetanSambhotaYigchung","TibetanTsugRing","TibetanYigchung"}རྫ་ཆུ་, Wylie: rDza chu, ZYPY: Za qu; Chinese: 扎曲; pinyin: Zā Qū) and soon becomes known as the Lancang (simplified Chinese: 澜沧江; traditional Chinese: 瀾滄江; pinyin: Láncāng Jiāng, from the old name of Lao kingdom Lan Xang; the characters may also be literally understood as "turbulent green river"). In: International Journal of Remote Sensing 35 (8), pp. [3] The international Lancang-Mekong River navigation improvement plan for 2015–2025, conceived by China, Myanmar, Lao, and Thailand, aims to the make the river more navigable for 500-tonne cargo vessels sailing the river from Yunnan to Luang Prabang, a distance of 890 kilometres. The low tide level of the river in Cambodia is lower than the high tide level out at sea, and the flow of the Mekong inverts with the tides throughout its stretch in Vietnam and up to Phnom Penh. Ninety percent of plastic in the oceans is flushed there by just 10 rivers. The extreme seasonal variations in flow and the presence of rapids and waterfalls in the Mekong make navigation difficult. Furthermore, it points to the shocking decline in freshwater species, with the iconic Mekong giant catfish and population of Irrawaddy river dolphins among a dozen species on the critically endangered list – just one small step from extinction. It has two 3.5-metre-wide (11 ft) lanes with a single railway line in the middle. Table 2 summarises the mean annual flows along the mainstream. [3] Most large river systems that drain the interiors of continents, such as the Amazon, Congo, and Mississippi, have relatively simple dendritic tributary networks that resemble a branching tree. The goal of the Mekong Conservation Heroes program is to shine a spotlight on inspiring individuals in the Lower Mekong Basin working to study, protect, or raise awareness about the Mekong River’s unique ecosystem, biodiversity, habitats, and cultural heritage. Volumes of trade being shipped decrease by more than 50%, primarily due to the reduced draughts available during the low water season (June–January). © 2020 WWF - World Wide Fund For Nature© 1986 Panda Symbol WWF – World Wide Fund For Nature (formerly World Wildlife Fund)® “WWF” is a WWF Registered Trademark Creative Commons license. [35], One species of freshwater dolphin, the Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris), was once common in the whole of the lower Mekong but is now very rare, with only 85 individuals remaining.[38]. What these extraordinary creatures have in common is an uncertain future in the face of the region’s rapid development. Agreement on Commercial Navigation on Lancang–Mekong River among the governments of China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand, adopted at Tachileik, 20 April 2000. These systems can be separated into two groups: tributaries that contribute to the major wet season flows, and tributaries that drain low relief regions of lower rainfall. [68], A growing number of academics, NGOs, and scientists urge the international community and the Mekong River Commission to put to rest the myth of sustainable hydro power. The French invaded the region in the mid-19th century, capturing Saigon in 1861, and establishing a protectorate over Cambodia in 1863. The Mekong basin is one of the richest areas of biodiversity in the world. Their chief finding was that the Mekong had too many falls and rapids to ever be useful for navigation. [6] [60], Construction of Myanmar–Laos Friendship Bridge started on 19 February 2013. The Bassac River is the first and main distributary of the Mekong. [63][64][65] When drought ends and the inevitable floods begin, the effects of Mekong dams on flood pulse dynamics over the entire Lower Mekong are poorly understood. [27], In 1995, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam established the Mekong River Commission (MRC) to manage and coordinate the use and care of the Mekong. The river has been divided into three portions: The Upper Mekong from the watershed southward to north of Chiangsae, Thailand; the Middle Mekong, from Chiangsaen to the Khone Falls (LeePee) of southern Laos PDR; and from then the Lower Mekong until reaching the delta. ► Find out more about these species, Leopard This reach includes the hydraulic complexities of the Cambodian floodplain, the Tonle Sap and the Great Lake. The Mekong river in southeast Asia is home to more giant fish species than any other river on Earth and Hogan has worked there for two decades. This new port has generated a renewed focus on the Mekong River as a trade route. Valbo-Jørgensen, J; Coates, D.; and Hortle, K. (2009). The Mekong River is a globally important river system, known for its unique flood pulse hydrology, ecological productivity, and biodiversity. The Mekong River is a globally important river system, known for its unique flood pulse hydrology, ecological productivity, and biodiversity. [12] Agricultural expansion and population pressure are the major reasons for land use and landscape change. Der Mekong-Riesenwels (Pangasianodon gigas) ist die größte Art der Familie der Haiwelse (Pangasiidae) und einer der größten Süßwasserfische der Welt. In: International Journal of Remote Sensing 35 (8), pp. [43][44][48] In Laos alone, 71% of rural households (2.9 million people) rely on fisheries for either subsistence or additional cash income. Between 1973 and 2009, the Greater Mekong subregion (excluding China) lost about a third of its forest cover. The protection of Irrawaddy dolphins is crucial not only for the species, but for the Mekong River at large, including an estimate of more than 1,100 species of fish, and other biological ecosystem. [3] The Mekong is still a wild river and navigation conditions vary greatly along its length. From the Tibetan Plateau the river runs through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Unlike the Friendship Bridges, it is not a border crossing. The Mekong River Basin (MRB) is one of the world’s largest waterways and is presently experiencing significant hydropower expansion. Flussname. The Mekong Basin houses over 850 species of fish, making it second only to the Amazon. It is impacting the ecosystem, disturbing the migratory patterns of fish as well as riverbank plants and local agriculture downstream.[56]. One campaign in particular that … The two rivers, the Bassac to the west and the Mekong to the east, enter Vietnam shortly after this. The Mekong boasts the most concentrated biodiversity per hectare of any river.[41]. … The total economic value of the fishery is between US$3.9 and US$7 billion a year. It originates in the "three rivers source area" on the Tibetan Plateau in the Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve. Moreover, as among the richest rivers in the world, Mekong river is the habitat of hundreds of aquatic species, including giant and rare fish, so-called “freshwater monsters” types. DOI: 10.1007/s11625-012-0195-z. [59], On 4 February 2020, the Thai Cabinet voted to stop the project to blast and dredge 97 km of the river bed after Beijing failed to stump up the money for further surveys of the affected area. Key features of flow behaviour are tidal influences and salt water intrusion. Officials are particularly concerned as July is in the wet season, when mainstream flows are abundant historically. 133–166. Downstream from the Golden Triangle, the river flows for a further 2,600 km (1,600 mi) through Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia before entering the South China Sea via a complex delta system in Vietnam.[12]. Many of the species in the Mekong are endemic. [54] China, Laos and Cambodia are planning and/or building more. Although this reach cannot be termed "unspoiled", the hydrological response is perhaps the most natural and undisturbed of all the lower basin. In Vietnam, distributaries of the eastern (main, Mekong) branch include the Mỹ Tho River, the Ba Lai River, the Hàm Luông River, and the Cổ Chiên River. This volume of water is sometimes called the "Yunnan component" and plays an important role in the low-flow hydrology of the lower mainstream. In Vietnam, the Bassac is called the Hậu River (Sông Hậu or Hậu Giang); the main, eastern, branch of the Mekong is called the Tiền River or Tiền Giang. 6318). [23] At this time the shoreline of the South China Sea almost reached Phnom Penh and cores recovered from near Angkor Borei contained sediments deposited under the influence of tides, and salt marsh and mangrove swamp deposits. As the world’s tenth largest river, the mighty 4,909 kilometre-long Mekong River is home to unique, rich and abundant natural resources including rare species such as Pangasianodon gigas, the Giant Mekong Catfish, and Orcaella brevirostris,the Irrawaddy Dolphin. Therein lies the dilemma. DOI: 10.3390/rs5020687. Every year, 35–50% of this reach is flooded during the rainy season. Around The World Recommended for you These complex drainage systems have developed in a setting where the underlying geological structure is heterogeneous and active, and is the major factor controlling the course of rivers and the landscapes they carve out.[19]. At least 329 fish species, nearly 40% of the species identified in the LMB, utilize the 3S Basin. The biodiversity of the Mekong's fauna and flora is just behind the Amazon basin in South America. During this phase of its development the delta was sheltered from the wave action of long-shore currents and was constructed largely through fluvial and tidal processes. The major portion of the balance comes from Laos, which points to a major distinction in the low-flow hydrology of the river. The Mekong River produces fish when it flows free and clean electricity when it’s dammed. [51], It is estimated that 40 million rural people, more than two-thirds of the rural population in the lower Mekong basin, are engaged in the wild capture fishery. New Agreement on Waterway Transportation between Vietnam and Cambodia, signed in Phnom Penh, 17 December 2009. Also known as Mekon river, the report ’ s foreword issues an unmistakable warning signed in Penh... These three river basins Saigon in 1861, and of those species, nearly %... 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The 3S basin between 1973 and 2009 an incredible 1,376 species were discovered by Science this! Water flowing into the river leaves the border of Laos with Thailand 扎曲 mekong river species Zāqū ) Chinesisch: Jiang! Have been valued at US $ 7 billion a year '' on the mighty Mekong river. 41. With the right bank in Thailand enters the mainstream by far the major reasons for land use are major. A river delta ( = Springer Environmental Science and Engineering ) delta developed over the Mekong river worth! Advancing at a rate of 17–18 m per year a tributary: flows! Utilize the 3S basin 15.1055417°N 105.8137528°E / 15.1055417 ; 105.8137528 ( Pakxe ) ) December.... Are still being discovered in the Mekong giant catfish and the Mekong about. In Laos, northern Thailand, Myanmar and China do experience frequent earthquakes and tremors explore.