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Sehlabathebe National Park on World Heritage list

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PHNOM PENH — The 37th session of the Unesco World Heritage Committee (WHC) yesterday inscribed Lesotho’s Sehlabathebe National Park on the World Heritage List. This makes Sehlabathebe National Park the first property to be on the prestigious World Heritage List.

Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister, Sok An, chairman of the session, extended congratulations to Lesotho on the inscription of the mixed natural and cultural property on the World Heritage List. Lesotho nominated the park for the World Heritage List in 2008, according to the Unesco’s document. The 6 500-hectare Park is located in the Maloti Mountains in 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, the document said. 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 percent of the plant species in the whole of Maluti 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.

The World Heritage Committee is currently holding its 37th session in Phnom Penh to consider inscribing 30 new properties on the World Heritage List. Dim Sovannarom, a spokesperson for the 37th WHC session, said that about 17 of the 30 candidate sites are likely to be inscribed on the list during the session.

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