For many years, Lanjia lodge has been working with Thailand’s Department of Fisheries to preserve the giant catfish in the Mekong River. The fish is indigenous to the Mekong and considered by many to be the king of fresh water fish. Thirty years ago, they were put on the endangered list and the Department of Fisheries has worked hard to ensure the survival of this mighty fish.

Today, we are at a cross road. Even though people in Thailand are strictly banned from catching the fish and the government’s cat fish hatchery program is successful with a large number of young giant cat fish having been released to the river over the years, it is hard to know that the fish are actually surviving in the wild.

Should the Mekong giant catfish remain on the endangered list?

The Mekong River is full of mystery. Fresh water marine biologists still cannot find answers about this fish species as to how they live, breed and travel the river. Even though people stop fishing on for them, they are facing new threats. Increasing populations along the Mekong and the economic demands to use this natural resource have changed the landscape of the river significantly. With new bridges, large cargo vessels, buildings and dams being development on the river bank, it is doubtful that these mighty fish will survive and thrive in the wild.

The new Thai - Laos Friendship, not far from the hatchery area

Not far from Lanjia lodge is Chiang Khong, a riverside town famous for being a habitat of the Mekong giant catfish. Each year, the Department of Fisheries release millions of small giant cat fish hatched from the farm into the river. This year, the area where they will release the fish is near the new Thai – Laos Friendship Bridge. This is the area where the river turns into Thailand from Laos and also where many tourists start a cruise into the World Heritage site of Luang Prabang, Laos. The location is ideal for fish hatchery since they will begin traveling southward to Tonlé Sap lake in Cambodia. It takes months for them to swim through waterfalls and river tunnels to Cambodia. Today, their journey has been more difficult and dangerous due to the development along and on the river.

Hatching area of the Mekong Giant Catfish on the Mekong River

When you visit the Mekong River or travel on the river, imagine what lies beneath the surface and reflect how we can help make this unique fish co exist with us in their natural habitat for the years to come. Sustainable tourism is one way you can contribute to the preservation of these fish. It can be as simple as picking up plastic bags you see on the river banks, not throwing trash into the river and choosing your tour operators that are supportive of sustainable tourism.

The giant cat fish may not become extinct but it will not survive in the wild if we don’t stop encroaching on their habitat.

The Mekong River turns into Laos and its the waterway that the Mekong Giant Catfish also travel.