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Nyungwe National Park Granted UNESCO World Heritage Status
Rwanda's Nyungwe National Park secures UNESCO World Heritage status alongside Djerba Island in Tunisia.
Rwanda's commitment to conservation has yielded significant results, as Nyungwe National Park has been added to the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List. The announcement was met with enthusiasm by Yolanda Makolo, a spokesperson of the Rwandan government, who stated, "Rwanda's Nyungwe Park has just achieved the remarkable distinction of being the first site in our country to earn a place on UNESCO's World Heritage List. This designation will undoubtedly bolster Rwanda's ongoing conservation initiatives."
On Monday, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) unveiled its latest additions to the World Heritage Site list, including Nyungwe National Park.
Nyungwe, one of Africa's oldest rainforests, boasts extraordinary biodiversity and breathtaking natural beauty. Established in 2004, Nyungwe Forest National Park encompasses a sprawling 970 square kilometers of rainforest, bamboo, grasslands, wetlands, and bogs.
This remarkable park also serves as the primary natural habitat for several species found nowhere else on Earth, including the globally threatened Eastern Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii), Golden Monkey (Cercopithecus mitis ssp. kandti), and the critically endangered Hills Horseshoe Bat (Rhinolophus hillorum). Additionally, Nyungwe National Park is a critical site for bird conservation in Africa, with 317 bird species recorded, including 12 mammals and seven bird species facing global threats.
Covering nearly 102,000 hectares in southwestern Rwanda, Nyungwe National Park is a sanctuary for intact forests, peat bogs, moors, thickets, and grasslands, supporting a diverse range of flora and fauna.
UNESCO emphasized, "The Park also contains the most significant natural habitats for a number of species found nowhere else in the world, including the globally threatened Eastern Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii), Golden Monkey (Cercopithecus mitis ssp. kandti) and the Critically Endangered Hills Horseshoe Bat (Rhinolophus hillorum)."
Good news: Rwanda\u2019s @NyungwePark has just become the first site in our country to be inscribed in @UNESCO's World Heritage List. This is a significant designation that will reinforce Rwanda's ongoing conservation efforts. #VisitRwanda #ConservationIsLife— Yolande Makolo \ud83c\uddf7\ud83c\uddfc (@Yolande Makolo \ud83c\uddf7\ud83c\uddfc) 1695135868
The UN agency underscored the park's vital role in safeguarding 12 threatened mammal and seven bird species on a global scale, reaffirming its status as a paramount bird conservation site in Africa.
This momentous achievement follows Rwanda's December 2021 request to UNESCO for Nyungwe's inclusion on the World Heritage List, a move hailed by conservationists as a significant step forward.
Notably, Nyungwe National Park is the source of up to 70 percent of Rwanda's freshwater and holds an estimated monetary value of $4.8 billion.
Prior to Nyungwe's inscription, Rwanda was among 12 African countries without a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Rwandan government has also submitted requests for the inclusion of four memorial sites related to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi on UNESCO's World Heritage List.
In another UNESCO development, the organization announced the inclusion of Djerba, the tourist island in southern Tunisia, on its world heritage list. Covering 514 square kilometers, Djerba stands as North Africa's largest island, characterized by a unique landscape combining coastal deserts and cultivated fields with palm and olive trees.
Djerba holds historical significance, often associated with the mythical island where Ulysses and his crew encountered the Lotophages in Homer's Odyssey. Moreover, it served as a backdrop for scenes in the Star Wars saga set on the planet Tatooine.
Tunisia's Ministry of Cultural Affairs celebrated Djerba's "definitive acceptance" as a UNESCO World Heritage site, acknowledging the collaborative efforts of authorities and civil society. The designation encompasses seven areas of the island and 24 monuments, including Carthaginian and Roman ruins, traditional houses with ingenious rainwater harvesting systems, religious diversity with churches, synagogues (including the oldest in Africa, the Ghriba), and fortified Ibadite mosques, some of which are subterranean. Djerba also features vibrant markets (souks) and a charming medina (old Arab town) at Houm Soukt.
Former Tunisian Tourism Minister René Trabelsi, a native of Djerba, expressed his joy at the island's UNESCO World Heritage status, calling it a result of extraordinary efforts and a testament to the hard work of many individuals.
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