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The World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has inscribed Lesotho’s Sehlabathebe National Park as an extension to the uKhahlamba Drakensberg World Heritage Site in South Africa and it will now to be named the Maloti Drakensberg Transboundary World Heritage Site.
The 37th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee inscribed the Sehlabathebe National Park of Lesotho on the World Heritage List on Saturday, 22 June 2013. This is Lesotho’s first World Heritage Site.
Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, chairman of the session, extended congratulations to Lesotho on the inscription of the mixed natural and cultural property, which is Sehlabathebe National Park, on the World Heritage List.
Sehlabathebe National Park’s African Alpine tundra ecosystem, with its 250 endemic plant species, significantly enhances the value of uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park. It also features important rock paintings made by the San people who had been living on the site for 4 000 years. Lesotho nominated the park for the World Heritage List in 2008.
The 6 500-hectare park is located in the Maluti mountains in the Qacha’s Nek district of southernmost Lesotho. The park, established in 1970 as a “Wild Life Sanctuary and National Park”, is pristine with a system of alpine wetlands supplying clean water to Lesotho, South Africa, and Namibia. It offers a significant habitat to a range of unique Afro-Alpine and Sub-Alpine plants, mammals, avifauna, reptiles, amphibians and fish. It has spectacular scenery with unique rock formations. Most of the park is taken up by a designated wilderness area and although small by international standards, it retains its natural character and is uninhabited. The park is home to various outstanding biodiversity species, some of which are endemic and endangered. This site hosts 23% of the plant species found in the whole of the Maloti-Drakensberg area. Apart from the unique floral presence in the park, there is a record number of 65 rock art sites which have been identified in the park, and other forms of previous habitation of the site.
Peace Parks Foundation warmly congratulates the Kingdom of Lesotho on the World Heritage Site listing. The Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Conservation and Development Area is now also a Transboundary World Heritage Site!