The great pyramids at Giza, EgyptElephants crossing the Zambezi river in Mana Pools National Park world heritage site, ZimbabweThe great mosque in the Old Towns of Djenne world heritage site, MaliBlack and white ruffed lemur, Rainforests of the Atsinanana world heritage site, Madagascar

Lake Turkana National Parks - Kenya

Map showing the location of the Lake Turkana National Parks (Sibiloi, Central Island, Southern Island), making up the world heritage site in Kenya

Area (serial site):  1,614 km2


Inscribed: 1997 (extended 2001)

Criteria: (viii) geological (x) biodiversity

Values:  Lake Turkana, known as the Jade Sea, exists in a barren landscape in the semi-desert environment of northern Kenya. The three National Parks (Sibiloi, Central and Southern Islands) are a stopover for migrant waterfowl and are major breeding grounds for the Nile crocodile and provide an outstanding laboratory for the study of plant and animal communities. Sibiloi National park protects the Koobi Fora fossil deposits which are rich in pre-human, mammalian, molluscan and other fossil remains and have contributed more to the understanding of Quaternary Palaeo-environments than any other site on the continent.

Lake Turkana National Parks are inscribed on the world heritage list on the strength of their outstanding natural values, but the area's role as a crucible of human evolution is equally (if not more) important.  In time the area will undoubtedly be recognised on the world heritage list for these cultural values, and in the meantime we provide recognition of these important cultural attributes in the form of a downloadable pdf document on human origins and the remarkable fossils that have been discoverd at Koobi Fora and other places within the Lake Turkana basin (see below).


Slideshow of Lake Turkana National Parks


Maps & Satellite Images of Lake Turkana National Parks MAPS & SATELLITE IMAGES:  A selection of maps and Google Earth satellite images showing the main features of the Lake Turkana National Parks is available by clicking here.  This portfolio includes satellite imagery from the entire lake basin, illustrating some of the key threats to the integrity of Lake Turkana, including images of some of the hydropower installations on the key inflowining rivers (Ethiopia's Omo River and Kenya's Turkwel River), as well as one of the large-scale irrigated suger schemes in Ethiopia.



Kenya's Jade Jewel In Peril from Ethiopia's Plans by Dr Patrick Avery



FURTHER INFORMATION AND ANALYSIS OF THREATS:  An excellent review of the threats currently facing Lake Turkana and their implications for conservation and development has recently been published in the magazine of the East African Wildlife Society, SWARA.  This impartial view of the consequences of Ethiopia's dams on the regional ecology and economy, by Dr Patrick Avery can be downloaded in pdf format by clicking here.


 Lake Turkana Threatened by Dam Construction and Irrigated Agriculture

A further article in SWARA, with updated information on the potentially devastating impact of agricultural irrigation projects associated with the Gibe 3 dam now being constructed in Ethiopia has been written by expert hydrologist, Dr Sean Avery.  Download the article ('What future for Lake Turkana and its wildlife', January 2014) by clicking here.




Want to know more about Lake Turkana's import hominin fossil discoveries and their role in tracing the human family tree?

Download this 14-page guide to the key hominin fossils found at Lake Turkana and across the continent, and the story of human origins and evolution.  The Guide is based on displays at the National Museum of Kenya (Nairobi) and includes a narrative on human evolution; photos of 19 key hominin fossils; artists impressions of four human ancestors; a map of hominin fossil locations; a diagrammatic representation of the human family tree; and 'interest boxes' on stone tools and methods of dating fossils. To download this free educational guide, click here.

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Links to other places in Africa's Great Rift Valley:  Bwindi Impenetrable  l   Virunga  l  Kahuzi-Biega  l   Lake Malawi  l  Kenya Lake System

Links:  Google Earth | UNEP-WCMC Site Description |Official UNESCO Site Details | Management Authority: KWS | Birdlife IBA

View across Lake Turkana to South Island National Park, part of the world heritage site in northern Kenya Fossilised tree trunk, lying exposed in Sibiloi National Park, part of the world heritage site in Kenya.  Nearby, at Kobi Fora a diverse range of hominid and other mammalian fossils have been unearthed. The upturned carapace of an enormous tortoise, one of the more remarkable fossil discoveries at Sibiloi National Park in the Lake Turkana world heritage site, Kenya The people of Lake Turkana, the Gabbra, Turkana, El Molo, Rendille and Merille are hardy desert-living people



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