November 2015 saw Natasha Howard and Lucy Archer, two Conservation Science graduates from Imperial College London, take on a two-wheeled adventure along the banks of the mighty Mekong River. Travelling 2,390 km through Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos by bike equipped with just the bare essentials, the ladies set out to be the first female only team to complete this journey. Their aim: to raise awareness of the Mekong and its importance, both for the sake of its biodiversity and the people who depend on it.

Along the way they visited the conservation projects that are working across the region to protect the river’s biodiversity, and met some of 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 documented the steps local conservation organisations are taking to conserve this hugely biodiverse region, with the aim to document positive conservation stories.

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 had a fantastic opportunity to meet and talk to people who live alongside the river and depend upon it for their livelihoods.

Check out their Conservation Stories.