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Media Release: SANParks declares World Heritage Site listing a step in restoration of dignity

11 July 2017

South African National Parks (SANParks) has extended its gratitude to the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), following the much awaited inscribing of the #Khomani Cultural Landscape as a World Heritage Site, bringing to nine (9) the number of World Heritage Sites in South Africa.

This according to the thrilled, SANParks Chief Executive Officer, Fundisile Mketeni, who said the inscribing of the #Khomani Cultural Landscape is a very important and symbolic step in the recognition and restoration of the dignity of the #Khomani San whose cultural life and traditional practices were significantly undermined by the forced removals they suffered under apartheid.

According to Mketeni this inscribing by UNESCO adds to the recognition of the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park and the larger Kgalakgadi Transfrontier Park as a special and unique conservation area to be protected and enjoyed by all South Africans and citizens of the world. “It further gives recognition to the great work being done in the preservation and promotion of South Africa’s diverse heritage.”

He said the boundaries of the newly inscribed world heritage site coincides with the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park (KGNP), which is part of the vast Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, straddling Botswana and South Africa. “This brings the number of world heritage sites under the management of SANParks to three (3) as it adds to the existing Cape Floral Region and the Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape.”

According Mketeni the #Khomani Cultural Landscape features sparse vegetation, occasional trees, and the dry riverbeds of the Nossob and Auob Rivers, as well as large expanse of sand dunes and associated physical features which contains evidence of human occupation from the Stone Age to the present associated with the ǂKhomani San culture.

The Site also includes landmarks of San history, migration, livelihoods, memory and resources. “It attests to the adaptive responses and interaction of the #Khomani San, past and present, to survive in a desert environment,” said Mketeni.

The submission to UNESCO was a collaborative work of the #Khomani San SANParks, the Department of Environmental Affairs, the Peace Parks Foundation and EcoAfrica.

Editor’s Note: The ǂKhomani San people, a formerly nomadic population which is the last indigenous San community in South Africa, developed subsistence strategies to cope with the extreme conditions of the environment. They developed a specific ethno botanical and veld knowledge as well as cultural practices and a worldview where geographical features embody symbolic links between humans, wildlife and the land.

Picture’s by Kevin Moore of SANParks

Khomani San youngsters enjoying a day under a tree

Khomani San Landscape within the Kgalagadi Gemsbok National Park

Khomani San men and women around the fire

Issued by:
South African National Parks (SANParks) Corporate Communications
Tel: 012 426 5170

Media enquiries:
Reynold Thakhuli
General Manager: Media, PR & Stakeholder Relations
Tel: 012 426 5170, Mobile: 073 373 4999

Janine Raftopoulos
SANParks Head of Communications
Tel: 012 426 5170, cell: 071 444 3121

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