TONLE SAP - CAMBODIA - MEKONG RIVER
Tonle Sap Lake is in Cambodia. This is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. In 1997 the lake was designated as a protected area under UNESCO's Man and Biosphere programme...
Tonle Sap Lake (also known as the Great Lake or simply Tonle Sap. It is situated in the center plains of the country, and has enormous sigificance for Cambodians. Tonle Sap Lake, along with the Tonle Sap River, forms a unique hydrological system, as well as an enormously diverse aquatic ecosystem. The lake also is an invaluable natural resource that provides sources of livelihood for the people living around it. Futher, Tonle Sap Lake acts as extremely important fish breeding ground and flood mediator for the Mekong River. Thus, the importance of the lake reaches far beyond Cambodia.
The lake is linked to the Mekong River by the Tonle Sap River. From November until June the lake flows into the Mekong. However, each year during the rainy season (mid June- late October) the Mekong River is inundated with rain waters. Its lower delta becomes flooded and cannot flow into the sea quickly enough to eliminate all the excess water. This causes the Mekong River to rise enough to reverse the flow of the Tonle Sap River causing it to flow back into the lake. The lake expands from 2,500 km2 to more than 16,000 km2 (160 Km long, 100 Km wide, 9m deep) creating an enormous wetland area. This wetland area supports a tremendous amount of biodiversity including plants, reptiles, mammals, birds and other animals. Many of these are known to be rare or endangered. These wetlands are also an important breeding area for fish from the lake and Mekong River.