Monday, December 6, 2010

Africa's World Heritage Sites Under Threat

An eastern lowland gorilla in Congo's Kahuzi-Biega National Park
 The UNESCO has recently stated that several of Africa's world heritage sites are under threat from uncontrolled poaching, development, and civil unrest. According to Lazare Eloundou, chief of the World Heritage Center's Africa unit, the dark continent has more than forty percent of sites listed under the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger. UNESCO, which is known for preserving natural and cultural heritage, has made Africa a priority and is giving extra support its governments in helping battle the threats. Mr. Eloundou stated that one of the major problems is the issue of the sites' conservation and protection coming into conflict with the need for infrastructure, and exploitation of resources. He expects a fair balance, and that it is going to be one of the major conservation issues in later years.

Currently, UNESCO is carrying out a two-year review of the conservation state in all African sites which due to be completed in July 2011 with recommendations for improving the sites' states. Mr. Eloundou further added that the review will provide an excellent opportunity to address conservation issues in the future, and that the recommendations will be implemented in the period of 2011-2017. He also stated that many African nations have begun to realize the importance to their local sites, due to their contribution in development regarding good management and protection.

I'm very happy to see what Mr. Eloundou said about different African nations, each containing one or some world heritage sites. People are beginning to understand the importance of their local jungles, and what must be done to protect and preserve them. Some of these sites fall into African countries that were known for civil unrest, such as Liberia and Congo. Congo had been witnessing the influx of refugees fleeing from its neighbor Rwanda since 1994. At that time, Rwanda was notorious for its civil unrest amongst its ethnic groups. In addition to civil unrest, several of these nations are threatened by habitat degradation and illegal poaching. With the rise in bushmeat, several of tropical Africa's endangered species have fallen victims as prey for the local people. These victims even include our closest relatives such as chimpanzees, gorillas, and various species of monkeys. However, based on this report, it shows that people are now starting to step up in the conservation of their cultural heritage sites which house some of these magnificent species of animals.

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