Representatives of Can Tho University have proposed building Mekong Delta Museum of Natural History in Can Tho since the city is the centre of the delta, The Saigon Times Daily reported.

The newspaper quoted Associate Professor Dr. Ha Thanh Toan, the president of the university, as saying: “Can Tho University wants to build the museum as Can Tho city is the centre of the Mekong Delta.”

Dr. Duong Van Ni, deputy head of the museum project board, said the Mekong River basin is undergoing a lot of negative changes because intensive farming, expansion of agricultural land, industrial and residential area development, forest exploitation, and damming. They have caused serious impact on natural ecosystems and endangered a lot of species of the region.

“Therefore, it is urgent and necessary to build a museum of natural history for the Mekong River basin,” he said.

The museum would comprise four main areas, with three areas for storing data, specimens, and books, documents, movies, web pages, and one for display.

Among them, data, specimens, and related documents are for academic purposes while the display area is for public education and even for tourism.

“Can Tho University now needs support in terms of land and investment to build the display area for the museum. Help from the authorities and enterprises would be needed,” Ni said.

Apart from Can Tho University, which will manage, train staff and provide facilities for studying and collecting specimens and documents for the museum, other parties expected to be involved in the project include the US Consulate General in HCM City, colleges in the delta, ministries of science and technology, natural resources and environment, and agriculture and rural development, as well as 13 provinces in the Mekong Delta.

For paddy alone, Can Tho University has collected and preserved nearly 4,000 paddy species in the Mekong Delta, he added, and species for the museum should be collected from the delta and the Mekong River area also.

“For example, there are around 100 river dolphins in Stung Streng area in Cambodia. If two more hydropower dams are built in the area, this dolphin species will become extinct.”

Le Manh Tung, deputy director of the Department of Planning and Investment, said the museum, which is not in the list of 12 priority projects for State funding until 2020 of Can Tho city, needs more than 200 billion VND (9.17 million USD) and an area of 50-60 hectares.

A location for the project should be prepared first before calling for private investment, he said.

Vice Chairman of Can Tho People’s Committee Truong Quang Hoai Nam assigned the Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism to work with Can Tho University over the project before the city government responds to the university.

“HCM City plans to build the Southern Museum of Natural History, including the Mekong Delta, and with the Mekong Delta Rice Research Institute working on the Mekong Delta Museum of Agriculture, the new museum of Can Tho University may affect the master plan for museums in the south,” Nam explained.-VNA