20 Most Endangered Rivers in the World

Well, in today’s era, where we all are just running to meet our deadlines and progressing at a massive rate, we forget that we are mere tenants on this planet Earth.

It is so aching to see natural water bodies dying just because of human intervention and growing industrialization. At times the situation is so much worse that it paves the way for natural calamities to occur.

With each passing day, we are just increasing the load of our selfish deeds on the earth and our ever-increasing greed is becoming a devastating problem for the whole of mankind. What else do we need to prove that our actions are causing havoc? We can see the water bodies dying, species extinction and catastrophes occurring!

In this article, we have mentioned the World’s 20 Most Endangered Rivers, which will compel you to ponder upon the causes of the present scenario. So here we go!

This list is compiled from various reports from agencies like World Wild Fund For Nature lists following Rivers as the most endangered rivers.

1. Susitna River, Alaska, USA

First on the list is Susitna River, in the U.S. This river has been offering a wide variety of recreational activities for the people. Many hydropower projects have been established on this river, causing the water quality to deteriorate.

The main reason responsible for killing this river is the Sustina- Watana Hydroelectric Project. The second tallest dam was built on this river leading, thus, pushing the water body to get listed in the most endangered river category. The project even caused several species of Salmons to become extinct.

2. Sanna River, Tyrol, Austria

The second most endangered river is Sanna River, in Austria. It is considered to be the shortest recognizable river in Europe. This whitewater river was the site of several world championships. The river has a lot of aesthetic value to the visitors as well. 

The major cause which threw the river into the endangered list category is the hydropower project which aimed at building a hydroelectric dam on the Sanna River. The mere greed of commercial gain is costing the river its existence.

3. Jondachi River, Ecuador

This is one of the most popular rivers used for rafting purposes. The river is set in the tropical jungles of Ecuador and is surrounded by gorgeous granite boulder gardens and pool drops. It has areas rich in biodiversity and culture.

 The river has now lost its originality and has become a mere host for hydropower projects. Commercial activities have interrupted the natural fauna and fauna of the river. 

4. Zambezi River, Zambia, Africa

Known as the best whitewater runs in the world, this is a favorite place for the highly adventurous rafters. This river is known for its beauty and biodiversity. The most dangerous threat to this river is the proposed Batoka George Dam project. 

This project is expected to flood this area. Subsequently, recreational activities are to be banned in the upper Zambezi regions. This is one of the best examples to quote how commercial activities ruin nature. 

5. Skeena River, British Columbia, Canada

Well, there are a few places in the world that remain truly wild, and Skeena River is one of the places. This river is known for its rich biodiversity and comeliness. It is very saddening to say that this river is now one of the most endangered rivers in the world.

Human interference and hydropower projects have robbed of the true beauty of this river. Not only the quality of water is affected but several species of salmon are also lost. The major threats to this river are the Coal Bed Methane Development and Liquefied Natural Gas Pipeline.

6. Upper Maipo River, Chile

This river is visited by thousands of river enthusiasts every year because of its astounding beauty. The color of the water body changes in different seasons. Despite the brown hue, the river water is clean and every year attracts a plethora of rafters.

Moreover, this river is responsible for supplying fresh water to many households. This river is mainly threatened by the ALTO MAIPO Hydroelectric Project (PHAM), Chile. The Alto Maipo project is jointly owned by AES GENER, a USA based multinational energy corporation (60%), and the Luskin family, a wealthy Chilean family (40%) that has financial interests in dozens of projects and businesses in Chile. These projects have deprived the river of its vegetation cover and flora and fauna.

7. The Vjosa River, Albania

The Vjosa river is characterized by beautiful canyons, braided river sections, islands, oxbows and meandering stretches. This river is one of the most endangered rivers of the earth in 2024.

The hydropower projects have ruined the water body completely. The major menace for the river is the dam project proposed by the Greek government which aims to divert about 70 million cubic meters per year through the River Kalamas for irrigation purposes.

8. Kelani River, Polpitiya, Sri Lanka

Next on the list is Kelani River in Sri Lanka. It is the fourth largest river in the country. The river is adversely affected because of the construction projects going on.

Not only this the tourism industry also played a major role in pushing the river into the endangered category. The river water is badly exploited thus resulting in the degraded water quality.

9. Karun River, Iran

The most important river in Iran. The water of the Karun river is widely used for navigation purposes. Well discussing the major threats to the river is nothing commercial but the contaminated mindset.

This river is the victim of the Mullah regime and their disastrous stupid plans. The new dams are being constructed every now and then which destroys the river.

10. Congo River, Africa

The world second largest river after the Amazon is also at the verge of extinction. One of the major rivers that actively contribute to the carbon cycle of the world is now at risk.

Grand Inga Dam, the world’s largest hydropower scheme, is the major threat to this river. The greed to boost the economy will cost the river is life in the near future.

11. Salween, Nujiang or Nu River

In recent years, there have been concerns about the construction of hydropower dams along the Salween River, which could have a significant impact on the river's ecology and the livelihoods of the people who depend on the river for fishing, agriculture, and other resources. Efforts are underway to protect the river and its ecosystems and to ensure that any development along the river is done in a sustainable and responsible manner.

Location: Shared by China, Myanmar and Thailand. It flows from the Tibetan Plateau.

Major Threat: Dams made on it.

12. La Plata

The La Plata River is a major river in South America that flows through Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil. It is also known as the Paraná-Paraguay River due to its location at the confluence of the Paraná and Paraguay rivers. The La Plata River is one of the largest rivers in the world, and its basin covers an area of over 3 million square kilometers (1.16 million square miles), encompassing much of southern South America.

The La Plata River has played an important role in the development and growth of the region, serving as a transportation route for goods and people and as a source of water for agriculture and industry. The river is also an important habitat for many species of fish and other wildlife, and its basin is home to a diverse array of flora and fauna.

However, the La Plata River has also been subject to a number of environmental concerns in recent years, including water pollution, loss of wetlands, and degradation of habitats due to human activities such as dam building, logging, and deforestation. Efforts are underway to address these issues and to protect and conserve the unique ecosystems of the La Plata River basin.

Location: It crosses five countries in South America. Paraguay, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay & Bolivia.

Major Threat: Dams and Navigation.

13. Danube

In recent years, the Danube River has been facing a number of environmental challenges, including water pollution, loss of wetlands, and degradation of habitats due to human activities such as dam building, logging, and deforestation.

Location: 19 European Countries.
Major Threat: Navigation

14. Rio Grande

Location: Border of US & Mexico.
Major Threat: Water Over-extraction

15. Ganges

Location: India & Bangladesh
Major Threat: Water Over-extraction

16. Murray-Darling

Location: Australia
Major Threat: Invasive Species

17. Indus

Location: China, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan
Major Threat: Climate Change

18. Nile

Location: 10 Countries in Africa.
Major Threats: Lowering of Water level

19. Yangtze

Location: Tibet-China
Major Threats: Pollution

20. Mekong

Location: China & Cambodia
Major Threat: Overfishing.