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The Greater Mekong

A region teeming with life

© © WWF-Greater Mekong / Wayuphong Jitvijak

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.

New Species Discoveries

In 2016, 115 new species were discovered in the Greater Mekong region.

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What is the Greater Mekong?

The Greater Mekong region 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.

Between 1997 and 2014, over 2,200 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 gibbons, tigers, Mekong Irrawaddy dolphins 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 the basin's over 70 million people.

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.

Latest News

Hong Kong Ivory Ban is Now Law: WWF Says it’s Time to Close All Asian Illegal Wildlife Markets

A ban on the domestic ivory trade with no compensation by 2021 and an increase in the maximum penalty for wildlife crime offences to 10 years was ...

01 Feb 2018 Read more »

Scientists Discover 115 New Species in Greater Mekong Region: WWF Report

A crocodile lizard that has been turned into a cartoon character, a snail-eating turtle discovered in a Thai food market and a horseshoe bat that ...

19 Dec 2017 Read more »

Consumers in China widely support upcoming ivory ban, but awareness is low, largest-ever ivory consumer survey finds

As a landmark ban on domestic ivory trade comes into effect in China at the end of this month, TRAFFIC and WWF surveys found that the ban has ...

12 Dec 2017 Read more »

Revealed: New WWF report unveils the unseen benefits of saving wild tigers

Money invested by governments, aid agencies and funds raised by supporters across the globe to save wild tigers have unseen benefits for Asia’s ...

27 Nov 2017 Read more »

100% Renewable Energy by 2050

Greater Mekong Power Sector Vision: All 5 countries in the Greater Mekong can get to 100% renewable energy by 2050, shows new reports.
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Facts and Figures