The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has named its 1,000th World Heritage Site, and the prestigious honor goes to the gorgeous Okavongo Delta in Botswana. UNESCO designates and protects these World Heritage Sites because they are of "special cultural or physical significance", and the Okavango Delta definitely delivers. Not only is it a particularly beautiful area, but it's also important to many species of wildlife, including some endangered animals. According to the African Wildlife Foundation:
The delta was acknowledged as one of the most diverse ecosystems in sub-Saharan Africa, comprising wetland and dry land habitat and supporting a diversity of terrestrial and aquatic species, including 71 species of fish, 400 species of birds, and an estimated 200,000 large mammal species, including buffalo, elephants, sable antelope, and black rhinoceros.
The marshy area, which comprises two million hectares, provides water to the giraffes, zebra, antelope and elephants during the dry winter months. According to Dr. Karen Ross of the African Wildlife Foundation, “World Heritage status would help prevent unsound developments both in Botswana and in upstream countries whose activities could negatively impact the Okavango Delta.” Furthermore, the AWF hopes that World Heritage Site status will bring more tourism and attention to the region and its need to be protected.
Even if you can't make it out to Africa, you can still explore all the culture America has to offer with the United States' World Heritage Sites!