Sunday, August 23, 2009

Mekong "Mae Nam Khong" - the Mother Khong

In Lao or Thai languages the Mekong River is called "Mae Nam Khong". 'Mae' means 'mother' and 'nam' translates as water' in the meaning of 'River'. While the name 'Khong' derives from the Sanskrit word 'ganga', which is the name for India's holy river Ganges. Northern and Northeastern Thais as well as the Lao refer to the Mekong Rivers as the 'Mother River Khong', which literally means "Mother Khong River".

The Mekong River is the world's 10th-longest river and discharges 475 km3/114 cu mi of water annually. The estimated length of the Mekong from the Tibetan Plateau to the Delta in Vietnam is 4,350 km.

Some of the richest and most endangered habitats on Earth can be found in the Greater Mekong area.

The whole region comprises China's Yunnan Province, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

This unique and interesting landscape of the Mekong River and its surrounding is home to an estimated 20'000 species of plant, 1'200 different kind of birds, 800 species of amphibians and reptiles, and 430 Mammals rare and endangered species, such as the Asian elephants, tigers and the critically endangered Javan rhinos.

The Mekong River houses at least 1'300 species of fish and in addition the rare Irrawaddy dolphins.

By proportion and length, the Mekong is the richest river if it comes to biodiversity on the planet. There are more species per unit and area than in the Amazon. Many of these species are endemic to the Mekong.

The biodiversity of the Greater Mekong area is of such abundance and importance, that even today new species continue to be discovered and described by science. Only between 1997 and 2007 at least 1'068 new species have been discovered in the Greater Mekong region, this adds up to two new species per week for the past decade.

However, the mighty Mekong River is under serious threat.

Cambodia's, Laos' and Thailand's government are planning eleven big hydro power dams on the Mekong River. If these dams are built along the river, they would block major fish migration ways and disrupt therefore the vitally of the Mekong River.

This however, will place the livelihood of millions of people who life along and depend upon the Mekong River for their food and income at risk.

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