Efforts to have the ‘Jewel of the Kalahari’ Okavango Delta accorded UNESCO’s World Heritage Status are at an advanced stage, revealed Nonofo Mosesane, Chief Curator, Ministry of Environment Wildlife and Tourism.
“Consultations with people in the vicinity of the delta, around Botswana, Angola, and Namibia have been done to gain support to apply and we are set to forward the draft dossier in February 2012,” said Mosesane. “We are vying to be listed because this will help us diversify our economy from minerals.”
He said tourism is now becoming increasingly important as the country anticipates a time when diamonds can no longer provide half of its annual revenue.
The Okavango Delta is regarded as one of the great wonders of the world with its diversity of wildlife and plants, as well as amazing large body of water in a desert environment.
If listed as UNESCO World Heritage site, Botswana pledges to conserve not only the Okavango Delta, but also to promote sustainable development that contributes to improved livelihoods of communities living within the vicinity of the site
“The listing of the Delta as a World Heritage Site will increase awareness of the area and the country for tourism which will bring economic growth and create more employment,” Mosesane said.
He said the listing of the site will guarantee the protection and preservation of the delta waters and wildlife.
“We have vulnerable wildlife that faces a high risk of extinction and needs to be conserved,” he said.
Antelope, zebra, lion, hyena, buffalo, leopard, cheetah, giraffe, elephant as well as hundreds of bird species are some of the eye-catching features of the Okavango.
“We are keen for the Okavango Delta to be awarded the accreditation so that we give the site the care it deserves before we lose it,” he said.