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 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.
Why the trip?!
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. It 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.
Along the way, we will be visiting cutting edge conservation projects that are working to protect the river’s biodiversity and will meet 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, we 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 the next generation of conservationists.
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, we will have a fantastic opportunity to meet and talk to these people. We will blog their stories and will report on their views. Our plan is to link with schools across the UK to create an interactive learning environment which will allow children to ask us questions about the natural world which we will put to the conservation organisations on the ground, filming as we go.
We have been very lucky to be awarded a start up grant by the Imperial College Exploration Board which has covered our flights, insurance and medical vaccinations, but we are looking for a small additional amount of funding for this journey which we will put towards equipment improvements to allow us to document the facinating stories along the river professionally.
Please visit our website @ www.meanderingthemekong.wordpress.com to find out more!