Website Category: Traditional Cultural Landscapes
Area: 9,591 km2
Criteria: (v) interaction with the environment
(vi) association with belief system
Location and Values: The ǂKhomani Cultural Landscape coincides with the boundaries of South Africa’s Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, located in the extreme northwest of the country, bordering Namibia and Botswana. It is a harsh desert environment in which the ǂKhomani-San people have lived in close association with nature as a nomadic hunter-gatherer community for millennia. The inclusion of the area on the world heritage list recognises the cultural importance of this association between the ǂKhomani-San people and this part of their traditional homeland. The world heritage listing has been possible through the recent restoration of land rights to the ǂKhomani-San people, following their forced removal in 1930 when the national park was established.
Designated as a cultural landscape, the site includes landmarks of ǂKhomani-San history, migration, livelihoods, memory and resources. The ǂKhomani-San people developed a specific ethnobotanical knowledge, cultural practices and a worldview related to the geographical features of their desert environment. So it is the cultural association with various landscape features, rather than any archaeological evidence or physical alteration to the natural environment, which the world heritage committee considered sufficient to justify the area’s designation as a world heritage cultural landscape. However, the technical advisory body which reviewed this nomination (ICOMOS) noted that the nomination was concerned with intangible aspects of ǂKhomani-San culture which were not necessarily linked to this particular area and recommended that a decision on its suitability for world heritage listing should be deferred for further study and justification.
Slideshow of the ǂKhomani Cultural Landscape: The slideshow features a series of photos of ǂKhomani-San people in their natural desert home environment, showing aspects of their traditional culture, shelters and characteristics of the vegetation and topography of the area. Most of the photographs are kindly contributed by Carsten ten Brink through flickr.com, with others by Dan Kitwood, Arri Raats, Benjamin Hollis, Chris Eason, David Barrie, Elia Fester, Frank Vassen, Fred Dawson, Jorge Lascar and Linda Alexandersson. Each photo is individually attributed by way of a watermark.
Google Earth View: To view satellite imagery of the ǂKhomani Cultural Landscape/Kalahari Gemsbok National Park 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. The window opens onto a good image of the entire world heritage area, with the boundaries of Namibia and Botswana delimiting most of its boundary to the west and east. The red desert sands that characterise the environment clearly extend way beyond the designated world heritage area, as does the traditional range of the ǂKhomani-San people.
Other Links: Official UNESCO Site Details