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The Mekong Project 1 (part deux)

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Alex Bell

on 25 October 2015

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Transcript of The Mekong Project 1 (part deux)

INTRODUCTION
The Mekong River, also known as the 'Mother of Water', is the tenth largest river in the world and the most important in South-East Asia. It flows for 4,350km through China, Burma, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. It is home to over 70 million people as well as providing habitats for many plant and animal species, making it the second most biodiverse region on Earth, after the Amazon.
CONCLUSION
Due to the increasing human population and social and economic development around the Mekong, there are many threats and the future of the Mekong is uncertain. Hydro-electric power, deforestation, animal poaching, pollution and many other things are affecting the river and the surrounding area. Furthermore, many animal species are already extinct and some are critically endangered, such as the Irrawaddy dolphin. As we move into the future, the Mekong is facing many problems, mostly as a result of our actions.
FORESTS IN THE MEKONG BASIN
The Mekong has many different types of climate because it travels such a long distance from north to south:

High up, near the source, it is dry, with very little rainfall.
In the middle course, the climate is tropical; half the time it is cool and dry, and for the rest of the year it is wet.
Near the mouth, it is always hot, with lots of rain during the monsoon season to feed the river.
Before people started to chop down trees, the forest around the Mekong was alive with animals. Trees covered the whole area as if it was their own territory and an army was charging towards them. People who live along the Mekong use the forest as much as they use the river.
TRIBUTARIES OF THE MEKONG
For such a large river, the Mekong only has seven main tributaries, including the Luangprabang, Xayaburi, Packom, Paklay, Sanakham, and Pakbeng which are all in Laos. The Mun River is the longest river in Thailand, and meets the Mekong at Khong Jiam, in Ubon Ratchathani Province.
Xayaburi River

THE
MEKONG'S
HISTORY
THE ANGKOR CIVILIZATION
part of the Khmer Empire
most successful civilization in SE Asia
around Cambodia, Thailand, southern Vietnam
civilization lasted from 802AD to 1431AD
Angkor Wat built in Cambodia
Angkor Thom city wall surrounded by giant moat
Hinduism first religion, became Buddhist
VIETNAM WAR
1969 - 1973
Ho Chi Minh wanted Vietnam to become free from the French
the problem was he believed in communism
after defeating French the country was split into North Vietnam and South Vietnam
the US eventually went to war with North Vietnam
ANGKOR WAT
EUROPEAN EXPLORATION
Europeans first discovered Mekong in 1540
the first European to discover Mekong was Portuguese explorer Antonio de Faria
Francis Garnier and the Mekong Exploration Commission first explored the Mekong between 1866-1868 to find out if the river was navigable.
PREHISTORY
RIVER BASIN
One of the poorest countries along the Mekong, Laos is planning to build a large number of dams like most of the other countries in the region. One of the most controversial hydro-electric power projects is at Xayaburi in Laos. This dam will block the main river but will create jobs for local people, electricity for their homes and an income for the Lao government.
People building the Xayaburi dam
DID YOU KNOW?
PEOPLE

income
Rubber plantation
Location & Features
The Mekong River passes through China, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
COUNTRIES
Source

= on the Tibetan Plateau in the high Himalayas (4,795m above sea level)

Mouth
= ends at the South China Sea in Vietnam
SOURCE TO MOUTH
BIODIVERSITY
The Mekong is a very important river to many people in South-East Asia. However, the most spectacular thing about it is its wildlife. W
ith over 20,000 different plant species, 1,300 fish species, 1,200 birds, 800 reptiles and amphibians and 430 mammals, i
t is the second most biodiverse place in the world, after the Amazon.
In the Mekong, an enormous range of plants and animals live and interact in this amazing ecosystem. And many new species that have never been seen before are being discovered every year. In 2014, an incredible 208 new species of animals and plants was found, including:

- a frog that sounds like a bird
- a walking catfish
- a psychedelic-coloured gecko
- the Elvis monkey
- a demon bat
THREAT OF EXTINCTION?
Today, many of the Mekong's unique species are endangered or facing the threat extinction. This is mainly due to things affecting there habitats such as dams, deforestation and pollution, but also as a result of human poaching to supply the illegal wildlife trade.
HELP!
Some companies, including the WWF, are trying to save the endangered species of the Mekong.
Mekong Project
The Mekong River Basin is very important for the people who are living in the six South-East Asian countries.

The size of the Greater Mekong Basin is the same as France and Germany put together.

People living in the basin region rely on the river for their food, business and transportation.

60 million people in the Lower Mekong Basin get 60% - 80% of their protein from the river fish.

The river Basin has activities like fishing, agriculture, hydroelectric power, transportation, biodiversity etc.
Wildlife
The 4,000 islands, or
Si Phan Don
in Thai and Lao, are located in Laos where, in the dry season, 4,000 small sand banks emerge from the water and in the monsoon they disappear again. During the monsoon the Mekong is at its widest - 17 km wide...
SI PHAN DON
KHONE FALLS
LANDSCAPE
& ENVIRONMENT
A river basin is the land which water flows across or under on its way to a river.
It sends all of the water falling within it to a central river and out to an estuary or to the ocean.
A river basin drains all of the land around a major river.
Basins can be divided into watersheds/areas of land around a smaller river, stream or lake.
WHAT IS A RIVER
BASIN
?
A river basin is the land which water flows across or under on its way to a river.
WHAT IS THE
SOURCE
?

WHAT IS THE
MOUTH
?

TONLE SAP
MIDDLE COURSE
As the Mekong comes down from the mountains, where it goes through Burma and Laos, it starts to get wider with valleys covered in forests and jungles on either side.
WHAT IS THE
LANDSCAPE LIKE?
At 4,350km long and travelling from the high Himalayan mountains all the way to the South China Sea, the Mekong River passes through a whole variety of different landscapes and habitats. From the dry, steep slopes of the mountains in China, through the tropical jungles of Burma and Thailand, to the flat plains of Cambodia and Vietnam, the Mekong is fed by smaller rivers and lots of rain.
LOWER COURSE
The Mekong's lower course runs through Cambodia and Vietnam giving life to millions of people for fishing and farming. Here the land is very flat and the river splits up into lots of networks of waterways known as the Mekong Delta. This is one of the most fertile places on earth.
The Khone Falls are in southern Laos, near the border with Cambodia. They include the widest waterfall in the world, which at its greatest point stretches 13km, with lots of powerful rapids and ferocious water.
MEKONG DELTA
Being the biggest fresh water lake in south-east Asia, the Tonle Sap or Great Lake in Khmer, is vitally important to the people of Cambodia. The river that feeds it has an interesting flow, as for one half of the year it flows upstream because it is so full that it pushes water back up to Siem Reap. For the other half of the year, it flows downstream into the Mekong River. The lake itself can grow 4 times bigger in the wet season.
UPPER COURSE
High up in the upper course of the river, the landscape is dry, rocky and mountainous. Very few plants grow there and it is difficult for people to survive. However, many people make their home there.
CLIMATE
A small river that feeds into a main river.
The place where two rivers meet is called a
confluence
WHAT IS A
TRIBUTARY
?
Irrawaddy dolphin
Habitat: Khone Falls, Laos/Cambodia
Status:
Brink of extinction
RESOURCES
As it nears the sea, the river meanders through the flat landscape of Vietnam to the Mekong delta, where the river splits into 9 heads and is known as the Nine Dragons. Here the water is 'brackish' as salt water mixes with the fresh water of the river.
Modern technology is changing the Mekong, with new opportunities for people to earn more income and improve their lives. As the region develops and experiences rapid change, some tribal groups have kept their traditional ways of life.
MODERN LIFE
DEFORESTATION
People are deforesting the Mekong Region for construction, trading and business, such as rubber plantations. The growth of rubber plantations is a potential problem because it is being grown as a monocrop (this means only one type of plant is grown). Do you know why rubber plantations are really common? It is because rubber is a valuable resource and it can make a lot of money for people. On the other hand, monocropping is a problem because if buyers don't want to be the product anymore, the people will lose income and jobs, making them poor again.
Another reason for deforestation is to build hydro-electric dams.
POLLUTION
While hydro-electric power is considered a 'green',
renewable
form of
energy
, it does have negative effects on people and the environment.
As the Mekong River develops, factories and industries that appear along its banks produce a lot of waste which can damage the environment and cause problems for local people. Pollution occurs on land and in the water in the form of factory smoke and non-biodegradable waste that people don't clean up.
Dams can cause damage to the environment by:

1. Blocking or disrupting fish migration.
2. Cutting down trees to build the dam.
3. Polluting the river.
DAMS
Dams around the Mekong are used to generate hydro-power or electricity. One dam in Laos can create 1070 megawatts of electricity. However, only 70 megawatts is used in Laos, with the other 1000 megawatts sold to Thailand. Although dams are effective for the economy in Laos, they also harm people and the environment around them.
Flowing through the 'Amazon of Asia', people are starting to build dams to help generate 'green' electricity. In fact, so much is being produced that the Mekong is becoming known as "the battery of south-east Asia".

Until recently, all hydro projects, except those in China, were on the Mekong's tributaries. However, a large number of dams are now under construction on the main stream in Laos and Cambodia. has meant that these effects have automatically spread over the whole basin.
DAMS IN LAOS
The Mekong has a large population living along its banks and these people's lives are affected by the river. Today more than 70 million people live in the Mekong Basin.
CHANGING TRADITIONS & CULTURES
While many of these groups are traditionally animist, Buddhism and Christianity have influenced their beliefs and traditions. These tribes are also experiencing rapid social and economic changes as a result of development, modernisation and new government laws.
There are plans to build a total of 55 dams in Laos alone. The electricity generated will be sold to Thailand and China as those countries continue to grow and modernise.
Francis Garnier and his Mekong Exploration Commission team were the first Europeans to attempt to travel from the mouth to the source of the Mekong, to find out if it was navigable. While it was quite easy to travel along some stretches of the river, it turned out that the river is not navigable along its whole length because it has too many rapids and waterfalls. However, nowadays the Chinese are exploding the rapids so that the Mekong can be used by big cargo ships. If you go there, you can take a big ship from Jing Hong.
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT?
Most of the people who live along the Mekong are below the poverty line. The people of the Mekong are polluting the Mekong and destroying the land.
In my own opinion, deforestation for dams is except able because originally Laos is the poor country so they need money by selling electricity.
How does the Mekong support people's lives?
In order to survive, the people depend on the Mekong (Thai name Mae Nam Kong) to provide their families with food and water. Most people use the river as a market for transporting their goods. Many people have jobs along and on the river to get income. The Mekong produces 2,500,000 million tonnes of fish a year, which makes it the most productive river in the world. On average a person living in the basin eats 27kg of Mekong fish annually.
TRIBAL GROUPS
TRADITIONAL HOMES
The tribes which live along the Mekong live in traditional huts which are usually made of bamboo, leaves and other natural materials. On the Tibetan Plateau, the nomads have tents made from yak hide.
traditionally have close relationship with nature and their environment.
some people say it is important that they continue living in traditional ways.
many tribes say that they want more modern lifestyles.
some tribes want to continue their traditional ways of life and unique culture.
hill tribes that live along the Mekong River include the Khampa, Lahu, Akha, Hmong and Bunong.
During the Vietnam War, the Mekong Delta suffered major destruction, poisoning and habitat loss as the U.S. Air Force dropped bombs and
"Agent Orange".
This chemical was used in American fields to prevent weeds from growing, but later on it was used in Southern Vietnam to deny Vietnamese soldiers shelter and camouflage in the undergrowth of the valleys. These poisons still affect the people in the region today, as do the largest amount of unexploded bombs (UXOs) anywhere in the world.
THREATS & FUTURE
The 'Amazon of Asia' is under threat. It has been bombed, over-fished, industrialized, dammed and developed. Over the many centuries that it has been inhabited, the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have had the biggest impact on the Mekong River and its Basin.
Indo-Chinese tiger
Habitat: jungles of Laos, Thailand
Status:
Critically Endangered
Rock paintings on cliffs that overlook the Mekong at Pha Taem show us that there was life along the Mekong thousands of years ago. At Ban Chiang, there is evidence of people making pottery, metal objects and the first rice grown in SE Asia.
LONG TERM EFFECTS OF THE WAR
POPULATION
AKHA
HMONG
LAHU
BUNONG
KHAMPA
The place where a river ends - most river mouths are at the sea, but some end in lakes.
WHAT IS A
DELTA
?

Deltas are formed where a river meets a body of water (sea or lake). Often the river water mixes with salt water to create 'brackish' water.
Mekong Giant catfish
Habitat: Mekong River
Status:
Critically Endangered
Beelzebub's tube-nosed bat
Habitat: tropical forests, Vietnam
Status:
New species
/
Endangered
Elvis monkey
Habitat: mountain forests, Burma
Status:
New species
/
Endangered
Javan rhino
Habitat: forests of Vietnam
Status:
Extinct?
Quang's tree frog
Habitat: mountain forests, Vietnam
Status:
New species
Sarus crane
Habitat: Mekong Delta, Vietnam
Status:
Critically Endangered
Saola
Habitat: jungles of Laos, Vietnam
Status:
Critically Endangered
Cantor's Giant soft shell turtle
Habitat: Mekong River, Cambodia
Status:
Critically Endangered
Psychedelic-coloured gecko
Habitat: an island in southern Vietnam
Status:
New Species
Asian elephant
Habitat: jungles of Mekong Basin
Status:
Endangered
Walking catfish
Habitat: Mekong River, Tonle Sap
Status:
New species
NEW DISCOVERIES
Also known as the "life blood of Asia", the Mekong has many resources for daily life including; fishing, farming, taking a shower, washing clothes, drinking & playing.


EVERYDAY USES
People also use the river for transportation - trading goods, travelling from place to place and communicating with other communities along the river's banks. However, the Mekong is not navigable along its whole length...


TRANSPORTATION
IS THE MEKONG NAVIGABLE?
HYDRO-ELECTRIC POWER
THE XAYABURI DAM
PEOPLE

Did you know?
66 percent of forest around the Mekong has already been destroyed.
Dams can affect people by:

1. Forcing them to leave their traditional homes.
2. Taking away their traditional livelihoods.
3. Causing flooding so they must move to higher ground.
4. Causing habitat loss for their food sources.
5. Changing water levels lower downstream.
Deforestation also leads to habitat loss, erosion, and flooding which affect both people and the environment.
The Sarus Crane(vulnerable)India
Bangkok is the world centre for the illegal wildlife trade and is responsible for most of the endangered animals in the Mekong region disappearing
A lot of animals are being hunted for their spectacular fur for a large amount of cash$.
POACHING/ ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE
RENEWABLE ENERGY?
A small river that feeds into a main river.
The place where two rivers meet is called a
confluence
WHAT IS
RENEWABLE ENERGY
?
A small river that feeds into a main river.
The place where two rivers meet is called a
confluence
WHAT IS
DEFORESTATION
?
CHINESE, BURMESE, THAI, LAO, KHMER & VIET
The people of the countries that the Mekong passes through have their own traditions and ways of life. China, Thailand and Vietnam are very successful modern economies, with big cities and infrastructure. Business is a very important part of their world.

On the other hand, Burma, Laos and Cambodia are less-developed, but many people believe this is where there will be lots of opportunities for development in the future.
the 4th largest city in Vietnam
largest city in the Mekong Delta
name comes from '
cam thi giang
' which means "river of poems"
located on the south bank of the Hau River
CAN THO
- there are 17million people living in the Mekong delta?

- 80% of people there are rice farmers?

- people do most of their trade by boat on the river?
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