Considered to have potential as a future World Heritage Site
Location and Area: A serial site would provide the best option, perhaps building on the existing national parks in Tanzania (Gombe Stream and MahaleMountains) and Zambia (Sumbu). (see map)
Inscription Status: Gombe Stream National Park is included on Tanzania’s Tentative List (2015), but none of the lakeshore states have formally recognised the potential for world heritage listing on account the lake’s aquatic biodiversity.
Important Values: Lake Tanganyika is the world’s second largest body of fresh water (after LakeBaikal). It is an ancient, deep Rift Valley lake in which evolutionary processes over 12 million years have resulted in an extraordinary diversity of species found nowhere else in the world. As with Lake Malawi, there have been extraordinary levels of speciation amongst the cichlid fishes (an estimated 250 species), but here evolutionary processes have operated over longer periods and had a broader impact across diverse taxa. So there are, for example, 145 species of non-cichlid fishes as well as huge diversity in invertebrate fauna. In view of the nature of the evolutionary pressures and very localised distributions of taxa along the shoreline of the lake a trans-boundary serial site would provide the best option.
Slideshow of Lake Tanganyika
Comparison with other sites:LakeBaikal (Russia) and Lake MalawiNational Park are comparable existing world heritage sites. A number of other AfricanRiftValleyLakes are included in the ‘Kenya Lakes System’ and Lake Turkana National Parks world heritage sites but Lake Tanganyika is quite distinct from these and certainly deserves consideration for listing.
Possible constraints to world heritage listing: World heritage status could help support conservation efforts in this globally important lake but the activities of artisanal fishermen would need to be curtailed in designated core areas, and the ideal of a trans-boundary listing might be politically difficult to achieve.