This November, Natasha Howard and Lucy Archer, two Conservation Science graduates from Imperial College London, will be taking on an extraordinary journey along the banks of the mighty Mekong River. Travelling 2,390km through Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos by bike and equipped with just the bare essentials, they aim to be the first female only team to complete this journey and hope to raise awareness of the importance of the Mekong, both for the biodiversity and the people who depend on it.
Along the way, they will be visiting cutting edge conservation projects that are working to protect the river’s biodiversity and will meet the millions of people who depend on the river for their food and livelihoods. Terrified by the dark picture painted for the future of our planet, Natasha and Lucy will be documenting the steps local conservation organisations are taking to conserve this hugely biodiverse region, with the aim to document positive conservation stories in the hope of inspiring others.
The Mekong is the 10th largest and 12th longest river in the world and, after the Amazon, is the second most biodiverse river basin in the world. With its headwaters in the Tibetan Plateau at Lhasa Gong Ma Spring, the river flows approximately 4,300 kilometres draining an area of 795,000 km2 on its way to the delta in Vietnam where it empties into the South China Sea. The Mekong basin is home to around 20,000 species of plants, 1,200 birds, 800 species of reptiles and amphibians and 430 mammal species, including Asian elephants and tigers.Between 1997 and 2007 alone, 1,059 new species were discovered in the Greater Mekong. 60 million people live in the lower Mekong Basin, 80% of whom rely directly on the river system for their food and livelihoods.
Travelling slowly by non-consumptive means the @MekongMeanders team will have a fantastic opportunity to meet and talk to people who live alongside the river and depend upon it for their livelihoods. They will blog their stories and will report on their views. Linking with schools across the UK, an interactive learning environment will be established which will allow children across the globe to ask us questions about the natural world which we will put to the conservation organisations on the ground, filming as we go.
Natasha and Lucy have been very lucky to be awarded a start up grant by the Imperial College Exploration Board but are looking for an additional sponsor for this journey. If this could be you, please get in touch!
Stay tuned; the adventure has only just begun…
Want to help? Please visit our Crowd Funder Page @ www.crowdfunder.co.uk/meandering-the-mekong