The UNESCO World Heritage List is intended to bring attention to and protect 890 sites around the world that the World Heritage Committee considers ‘have outstanding universal value.’ These sites are deemed internationally important and so their care and upkeep are of interest to us all.
Civil unrest, lack of good management, poachers, and lack of funds have led to these sites being listed as ‘in danger’ of being run down or lost. In Africa there are many incredible landscapes and delicate ecosystems as well as rare and endangered animals that all need attention and protection.
If you live in or near any sites listed on the World Heritage in Danger List, what can you do to help pull them out of danger?
There are 31 sites the World Heritage claims are in danger, below are the sites in Africa.
Central African Republic
Manovo-Gounda St Floris National Park
This UNESCO site is important because of the vast richness of its plant and wildlife populating the many miles of savannahs, including black rhinoceroses, elephants, cheetahs, leopards, wild dogs, red-fronted gazelles and buffalo, and many different types of water birds are found in the floodplains.
Comoé National Park
This park is among the largest protected areas in West Africa. An amazing variety of plants can be found here including plants, which normally grow much further south. The Comoé River allows for this varied habitat.
Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve
Mount Nimba rises from the savannah on the borders of Liberia, Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire. Mountain pastures and dense forest cover the mountain slopes, providing home for the wide variety of plants and animals, including chimpanzees that use stones as tools.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Garamba National Park
Miles and miles of savannahs and woodlands along the banks of the river and swampy lowlands are home to four of the largest mammals in the world: the giraffe, elephant, hippopotamus and the white rhinoceros—only around 30 white rhinos remain in the wild.
Kahuzi-Biega National Park
Two spectacular extinct volcanoes, Kahuzi and Biega, surrounded by tropical forest make up a park filled with diverse plant life and one of the last remaining groups of lowland gorillas—only around 250 individuals remain.
Okapi Wildlife Reserve
The reserve is part of the Congo River basin, one of the largest drainage systems in Africa. The reserve and surrounding area contain primates and birds listed as threatened and severely threatened. Around 5,000 of the remaining 30,000 okapi also live here. As well as wildlife, some of the most incredible scenery in Africa can be found here: especially the Ituri and Epulu River waterfalls. Also living on the reserve are the traditional nomadic pygmy Mbuti and Efe hunters.
Salonga National Park
The largest tropical rainforest in Africa is the Salonga National Park. Also located in the Congo River basin, this park is very isolated and only accessible by water. Many endangered species live here, including the forest elephant, the dwarf chimpanzee, and the Congo peacock.
Virunga National Park
With an incredible variety of habitats, including a chain of active volcanoes, steppes, swamps and snowfields, this park is home to rare and endangered species such as the mountain gorillas. Hippos and wintering birds from Siberia also live here.
This early Christian holy city was built over the tomb of the martyr Menas of Alexandria, who died in A.D. 296. The site includes such buildings of historical importance and interest as the church, the baptistery, public buildings, a monastery, and houses.
Simien National Park
One of the most incredible landscapes in the world was created by erosion on a spectacular scale, leaving behind zigzagging mountain peaks and deep-cut valleys of around 1,500m. This amazing landscape is home to rare and endangered animals, including a goat found nowhere else in the world, the Gelada baboon and the Simien fox.
Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve
See entry under Côte d’Ivoire.
Aïr and Ténéré Natural Reserves
The protected area here is the largest in Africa covering around 7.7 million ha. This area is special because of the volcanic rock mass of the Aïr, a small Sahelian pocket, a microclimate of plant and animal life surrounded by the Sahara of Ténéré.
Niokolo-Koba National Park
A wide variety of plants and animals thrive in the rich forests and savannahs that grow along the banks of the Gambia River.
Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara
These ruins are found on two small islands near the coast of Tanzania. From the 13th to the 16th centuries they were once two important ports that handled trade from around the world including precious metals, pearls, rare oils, Chinese porcelain and silk.