Website Category: Ancient sub-Saharan Civilisations
Area: 4,913 km2
Criteria: (iii) cultural tradition (iv) icon of an era(plus natural criteria)
Location and Values: The Ecosystem and Relict Cultural Landscape of Lope-Okanda is located in central Gabon, to the south of the Ogooue River. It is one of only five ‘mixed’ sites in Africa, satisfying world heritage cultural as well as natural criteria. From a cultural point of view, it contains an outstanding number of old settlement sites, 1,800 rock engravings, iron workings and other archaeological evidence of human occupation dating back 400,000 years, and indicating that the Ogooue River valley was a crucial corridor allowing the migration of Bantu people from West Africa around the fringes of the Congo Basin forests and into eastern and southern Africa. This migration of people has had a profound influence on the entire subsequent development of the African continent.
Slideshow of the Ecosystem And Relict Cultural Landscape Of Lope-Okanda: The slideshow illustrates the natural attributes of the site, particularly the interface between the dense rainforests and grass savannas along the Ogooue River valley. Although the Lope National Park is well protected, the wider landscape around the world heritage property is subject to extensive commercial logging, the massive trunks of trees felled being exported via railway from a rail-yard just north of the property. Lope has been the centre of long-term research and conservation work by the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society, and a researcher is shown radio-tracking mandrills (a type of monkey) and setting up a camouflaged hide in a forested gulley where these animals pass in large troops. The Lope National Park supports an extraordinary diversity of wildlife, including forest buffalo which are shown in one the grasslands
Slideshow of the Ecosystem And Relict Cultural Landscape Of Lope-Okanda:
Comments and Impressions: This is one of the most remote of Africa’s world heritage sites so it receives few visitors and has little visitor infrastructure.
Google Earth View: To view satellite imagery of this area on Google Earth,click here. This opens a new window, so when you are finished, just close the Google Earth page and you will be straight back here to continue browsing. Unfortunately – but perhaps not surprisingly in a rainforest area – there is rather a lot of cloud cover in this imagery, so there is limited scope to make out details of the landscape.
Other Links: Official UNESCO Site Details