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Potential Last Chance to See – Threatened World Heritage Sites

Potential Last Chance to See – Threatened World Heritage Sites
January 18
08:00 2016
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Everyone knows a few of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, even if they aren’t exactly sure what makes one, nor what the title actually means. Some of the more globally famous World Heritage Sites, for example, are the Taj Mahal in India, Stonehenge in the UK, the Statue of Liberty in the USA, and the Pyramids of Giza (and the Sphinx) in Egypt.
But what is a World Heritage Site? Well, to put it simply, they are objects or places that are recognised to be of “outstanding international importance”. They can be man-made or natural, and they fall into a number of different categories: religious structures, wildlife habitats, geological formations, archaeological sites… there are loads.

Threatened World Heritage Sites

But sadly, some of the World Heritage Sites are under threat, and so we can’t assume they’ll be around forever. Two sites have already been delistedDresden’s Elbe Valley for the construction of a large road bridge and the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in Oman, due to the decision to reduce its size by 90% and begin prospecting for hydrocarbons – so you really can’t just sit around waiting.

The time to visit these spectacular sites is now, so what are you waiting for?

Sana’a, Yemen

The beautiful Old City of Sana’a is a magnificent place to explore, especially if you like your architecture to be old and lovely: it is populated by buildings that date back to the 11th century. Sadly, some have been destroyed by airstrikes in recent months, prompting its addition to the threatened list.

Threatened World Heritage Sites

Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania

The Selous Game Reserve is home to a wide variety of fascinating and endangered animals, including elephants and rhinos. Rather depressingly, this makes it a major target for poachers. In the last thirty years, the numbers of these large and majestic creatures in the area have fallen by 90%. Because of this rapid decline, it is expected to lose its World Heritage Site status soon, barring a sudden reversal of fortunes.

Threatened World Heritage Sites

Abu Mena, Egypt

This early Christian holy city holds great religious importance. There are very few remains left standing, but the major buildings (like the basilica) are visible in one sense or another. It was built over the tomb of a martyr – Menas of Alexandria – in about the 4th century AD. Agriculture in the area has caused the water table to rise, which in turn is making the buildings unstable. Some, unfortunately, have already collapsed.

Threatened World Heritage Sites

Sumatran Rainforest, Indonesia

This Site comprises three separate national parks, and spans a truly mind-boggling area of 2.5 million hectares. As you might expect, the environment here plays host to a number of endangered and threatened species of plant and animal life. 21 species of bird are endemic, meaning they are found only here, and 15 species of mammal found here live only in Indonesia, including the endemic (and endangered) Sumatran orang-utan. The area is under threat for a few different reasons, including poaching, logging and agriculture, and there are currently plans to build roads through it. Visit it while you still can.

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