It goes without saying that Africa is one of the few places in the world with the most iconic and scarce attraction sites. While some of these sites are man-made, majority of them are natural occurrences that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
Sadly, most of these attractions are now facing serious threats of extinction mainly from continued human activities and changing weather patterns. A huge number of them have already been listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as endangered world heritage sites.
Here are the top five African world heritage sites in danger.
Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve, Ivory Coast
Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve lies on the borders between Ivory Coast, Guinea and Liberia. The mountain is covered by a thick forest and grassy mountain pastures at its feet. This nature reserve is home to a variety of wildlife, including common species like chimpanzees, which use stones as tools, and viviparous toads.
The reserve covers about 17,540 ha, 12,540 ha of which are in Guinea and 5,000 ha in Ivory Coast. From an ecological point of view, the reserve is an outstanding site with spectacular views and landscapes. Unfortunately, it is now under constant threat of extinction due to continued human encroachment and climate change.
Manovo-Gounda St. Floris National Park, Central African Republic
Located in Bamingui-Bangoran in Central African Republic, near its border with Chad, the Manovo-Gounda St. Floris National Park has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988. It boasts diverse flora and fauna, including prominent animal species such as black rhinos, Sudan cheetahs, red-fronted gazelles, and lions.
Due to human interferences like illegal poaching and periodic droughts, rare wildlife in the park is being wiped out at an unprecedented rate. In fact, the popular Western Black Rhinos that were indigenous to CAR are now extinct thanks to heavily armed poachers who have been invading the park frequently, harvesting almost 80 percent of the park’s wildlife.
Abu Mena, Egypt
Abu Mena, which is located 45 km southwest of Alexandria, Egypt, is an ancient town that served as a monastery complex and Christian pilgrimage center in the Late Antique Egypt. The site was excavated in the early 1900s and was named a World Heritage Site in 1979.
Although some foundations of the major buildings such as the great basilica are still visible, many of the site’s remains have been destroyed by the rising water table in the area. Egyptian authorities have placed sand in the bases of the most endangered structures at the site to prevent them from collapsing. Aside from the basilica, there are other significant structures within the site, including a Church where the saint’s remains and Roman baths are housed, and a large dormitory for pilgrims.
Atsinanana Rain Forests, Madagascar
The Atsinanana Rain Forests, which were included in the list of World Heritage Sites in 2007, comprise of 13 specific regions in six national parks in eastern Madagascar. These include Marojejy National Park, Madoala National Park, Zahamena National Park, Ranomafana National Park, Andringitra National Park, and Andohahela National Park.
The forests play a critical role in maintaining a favorable ecological process for the survival of the country’s unique biodiversity. They are celebrated for their biodiversity, which includes many rare and endangered species, especially lemurs and other primates. The forests were listed as endangered in 2010 following political and civil unrest in the country. They also face the threat of illegal timber cutting.
Tombs of Buganda Kings, Uganda
Located on Kasubi Hill in Kampala, Uganda, Kasubi Tombs are the burial site of four kings of the ancient Buganda Kingdom. The site, which serves as a major spiritual and political shrine, also houses several other graves of members of the royal family. It was named a World Heritage Site in December 2001, the same year it was declared “one of the most remarkable buildings using purely vegetal materials in the entire region of sub-Saharan Africa”.
In March 2010, some of the buildings at the site were destroyed by a fire, whose cause is yet to be known. Consequently, the tombs were included in the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger. The site, which covers around 26 hectares, has since been reconstructed by the Buganda Kingdom with the help of the national government.
This list should serve as a caution to Africans, especially the leaders, to take the necessary actions to ensure these iconic sites are well-looked-after. Individual African governments must eliminate threats to these irreplaceable inheritances and hasten the pace of repairing those that are already damaged.