UNESCO Just Announced the 1000th World Heritage Site | Smart News | Smithsonian

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UNESCO Just Announced the 1000th World Heritage Site

Botswana's lush Okavango Delta claims the slot

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UNESCO just announced its 1000th World Heritage Site—the Okavango Delta in Botswana. The 2.3 million hectare marshy landscape is unique because it floods each year during the dry season, the UNESCO committee says. Some of the world's most endangered and beloved species of large mammals live there, including white and black rhinos, lions and cheetahs. All told, around 200,000 species of mammals, 400 types of birds and 70 different fish species live there, making up one of sub-Saharan Africa's most diverse ecosystems, according to the African Wildlife Foundation

Currently, about 30 percent of the Okavango Delta is designated as a protected area, but conservationists are hoping that, with the new UNESCO listing, Botswana will up its protection ante, the African Wildlife Foundation says. The listing will likely increase tourist interest in visiting the area, and the revenue those visitors bring could boost the odds of more of the area being declared off-limits to development. More anti-wildlife poaching efforts are also given to protected areas. 

And there is plenty to interest tourists. Take a look:

Photo: Lost Horizon Images/Corbis
Photo: Lost Horizon Images/Corbis
Photo: Lost Horizon Images/Corbis
Photo: Christophe Courteau/Water Rights/Corbis
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