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SOS Rhino : In the News : No rhino, no world heritage site'

No rhino, no world heritage site'

  14/07/2005 11:05  - (SA)

Johannesburg - Uncontrolled poaching of the northern white rhino in the Democratic Republic of Congo's northern Garamba National Park could have the reserve scrapped as a world heritage site, a wildlife organisation said on Wednesday.

"'No rhino, no world heritage site,' was the echoing comment of World Heritage Committee," the World Conservation Union (IUCN) said in a statement.

The Unesco World Heritage Committee is meeting in the eastern coastal city of Durban this week to look at the status of heritage sites around the world.

This week, the committee heard that there were only five to 10 rhinos remaining in Garamba where their numbers have been decimated by highly organised armed gangs.

"The committee considered that the loss of the rhino would mean that Garamba would no longer be of 'outstanding universal value'... and therefore said it would consider removing the site from the world heritage list next year," the IUCN said.

A world heritage site is proclaimed when it has "outstanding universal value to humanity" and needs to be preserved for future generations, and include places as diverse as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Pyramids in Egypt.

"The northern white rhino is the flagship species for this site and every effort must be made to protect the remaining five to 10 individuals," said IUCN delegation head David Sheppard.

Separately, the Malian city of Timbuktu was removed from the danger list after the Unesco committee heard about new conservation initiatives and a plan to rehabilitate the site.

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