Tanzania's Tendaguru dinosaur site gets World heritage nomination

Dinosaur fossils from Tendaguru preserved in für Naturkunde Museum in Berlin, Germany. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • If the site meets the critical criteria for nomination by Unesco, experts will be sent to the area for deeper geophysical assessments

Arusha. The Tendaguru dinosaur site in Lindi Region has been nominated as a world heritage site.

The nomination by Unesco will see experts dispatched to the area for deeper geophysical surveys if the site met the crucial benchmarks.

This emerged here on Tuesday at the end of a conference of world heritage properties in Africa.

Delegates were told that Unesco was convinced the remote site in Lindi has outstanding universal value.

This is where the remains of a giant dinosaur, a prehistoric animal, were found in 1906 by paleontologists.

The specimens were later taken to Germany, which colonised Tanganyika then, where they have been preserved in a museum.

There had been unsuccessful efforts to return them to Tanzania for public viewing in the local museums.

However, Unesco, whose mandate is to oversee the preservation and protection of such relics, said the site has outstanding global value. “Tendaguru has been identified as a site that should be elevated to world heritage status,” an official of the UN body said.

However, the world status would be given once experts are dispatched to the site for ‘ground-truthing’ if it met the required benchmarks.

At the moment seven such sites in Tanzania have been identified for elevation but are still awaiting approvals.

One of the benchmarks is that there should not be any ownership conflict of such areas with the local communities.

Others are outstanding archaeological, historical, paleontological, geological, cultural and biodiversity values.

Kevin Robert, a scientific expert with the Unesco country office in Dar es Salaam, said once cleared for elevation, the sites would be protected for tourism and research.

These are Gombe National Park, the slave and ivory trade route from Bagamoyo to Kigoma and Jozani-Chwaka nature reserve in Zanzibar.

Others are the Oldonyo Murwak hill in Kilimanjaro region and Amani Nature Reserve in Tanga region.

Currently, Tanzania has seven world heritage sites, mainly the national parks and historical ruins, on the Unesco list.

They are Serengeti, Kilimanjaro and Mwalimu Nyerere national parks and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA).

Others are the Zanzibar Stone Town, the Kilwa Kisiwani-Songo Mnara ruins and the Kondoa Rock Art in Dodoma region.

Mr Robert urged the policy makers to support the drive because the world heritage sites often attracted more tourists for their outstanding values.

“This is not the case for Tanzania alone but throughout the world,” he told The Citizen, noting that Tanzania has 13 percent of world heritage properties.

Globally, there are 1,150 such sites, 54 of them in Africa. However, the African continent has only 107 experts trained in the field.

Tanzania is a signatory to the 1972 World Heritage Convention whose primary goal is to conserve natural and cultural properties.

Tanzania, he further said, was one of the earliest states to ratify the convention “because we have a wide variety of world heritage properties.”