The small cuts bleeding Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Lake

Climate change, dam construction and sand dredging imperil the existence of one of the most bountiful lakes on Earth.

National Route 52 in Cambodia ends in Chnok Tru on the southern end of Tonle Sap Lake. The village is a main transfer point for fish and vegetables. On a typical day, boats crowd the surface and people carry large plastic baskets ashore.

During the dry season, a concrete pole on the side of the road gives an idea of how different the area looks just a few months later during the rainy season. At about 4 metres (13 feet), the pole’s colour pales, indicating how high the water will rise.

Much of that water comes to Tonle Sap Lake through the Tonle Sap River, which takes water from the Mekong River in Phnom Penh during the annual rainfalls. The opposite happens in the dry season when the Tonle Sap River empties its namesake lake and carries water back to the Mekong.

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