News / Africa

Central Africa Region Named World Heritage Site

Apes in the Sangha Tri-National Protected Area. (Thomas Breeuer / WCS)Apes in the Sangha Tri-National Protected Area. (Thomas Breeuer / WCS)
x
Apes in the Sangha Tri-National Protected Area. (Thomas Breeuer / WCS)
Apes in the Sangha Tri-National Protected Area. (Thomas Breeuer / WCS)
Joe DeCapua
A region in Central Africa with some of the last great populations of forest elephants, gorillas and chimpanzees has been declared a U.N. World Heritage Site. It consists of about 25,000 square kilometers spanning the Republic of Congo, Cameroon and Central African Republic.

It’s called the Sangha Tri-National Protected Area complex, also known by the French acronym TNS. It’s formed by three contiguous national parks that are linked by the Sangha River.

Wild Heart

James Deutsch, director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Africa Program, calls the World Heritage Site the “wild heart of the Congo Basin Rainforest.”

“The Sangha Tri-National is one of only two or three areas left in the Congo Basin Rainforest that is physically intact in terms of both the forest cover and the trees. But more importantly also still has all of the wildlife populations, all of the different species for which the Congo Basin is so well known – elephants and gorillas and chimpanzees. And by many measures this area is really the most intact remaining large expanse of rainforest in Africa,” he said.

De Capua report on World Heritage Site
De Capua report on World Heritage Sitei
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X


The Congo Basin is the world’s second largest rainforest after the Amazon.

Deutsch said that giving the TNS World Heritage Site status does several things.

“Probably most importantly, it commits the three countries – Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville and the Central African Republic – to cherishing this area and helping to protect it in perpetuity. For any country, as that country faces the various trade-offs between industrial development and conservation, that kind of commitment is hugely important,” he said.

Poachers, loggers and HIV

But despite being a protected area consisting of national parks and now a World Heritage Site, the complex still faces threats.

Deutsch said, “Probably the most urgent threat that has really accelerated in the last few years has been elephant poaching because of an increase in demand for ivory in Asia and an increase in organized crime’s involvement in elephant poaching and ivory trafficking.”

Another major challenge facing the TNS is balancing conservation with the demand for commercial logging.

“The big problem with logging, with selective logging in particular, is that it opens up access to the forest to people to go in and remove the wildlife species,” he said.

However, when people go into places where humans do not normally tread, diseases can come out and affect the entire world.

“This exact area is, according to experts, the area where HIV made the jump from chimpanzees to humans sometime around a hundred years ago, probably as a result of people hunting chimps. It’s also very near the focal area for the Ebola virus, which of course is hugely harmful to people, in fact lethal in 70, 80 percent of cases. And we don’t know what other pathogens, what other viruses and other potential diseases lurk in the forest and in the wildlife in the forest,” he said.

Deutsch says achieving World Heritage Site status for the Tri-National Protected Area complex took many years of hard work by the three countries, various governments and many groups and individuals. He adds it means the TNS is a world treasure.

You May Like

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

Ninety percent of homes in one small village were damaged or destroyed as government forces failed to stop a rebel advance More

Pakistan’s 'Last Self-Declared Jew' Attacked, Detained

Argument about the rights of non-Muslims in Pakistan allegedly results in mob beating well-known Jewish Pakistani More

Turkey Cracks Down on Political Dissent, Again

People daring to engage in political dissent ahead of upcoming general elections could find themselves in jail More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobanii
X
Mahmoud Bali
March 06, 2015 8:43 PM
Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobani

Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

In the village of Nikishino, in eastern Ukraine, recent fighting has brought utter devastation. Ninety percent of the houses are damaged or destroyed after government forces tried and failed to stop rebels advancing on the strategically important town of Debaltseve nearby. Patrick Wells reports for VOA from Nikishino.
Video

Video Crime Scenes Re-Created in 3-D Visualization

Police and prosecutors sometimes resort to re-creations of crime scenes in order to better understand the interaction of all participants in complicated cases. A Swiss institute says advanced virtual reality technology can be used for quality re-creations of events at the moment of the crime. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More