About the website developer. This website is a private initiative of British-born conservationist, author and photographer Dr Peter Howard. Dr Howard has worked in the field of African wildlife conservation since 1980, and is uniquely placed to provide an authoritative perspective on the continent's world heritage sites. After completing a first degree in biology at the University of Southampton (UK), he moved to South Africa to undertake a PhD in wildlife management, and has subsequently worked on wildlife conservation issues across the continent. He has lived in Africa for almost 30 years, visited 36 African countries, and served in a range of professional positions with institutions such as KZN Wildlife, WWF, Uganda Forestry Department, Tanzania National Parks, IUCN and the Ghana Wildlife Division. He has also served as Director of the Africa Program of the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society, with responsibility for projects across the continent. His long association with conservation efforts in many of the continent's natural world heritage sites - and concern for their conservation - led him to begin photographing and documenting these special places more systematically in 2005. In developing this website - and a popular illustrated book to follow - he hopes to raise awareness of these places, their outstanding value to mankind and pressing conservation needs. And in doing so, support the work of the management authorities responsible for each site and the international agencies - UNESCO, IUCN, the African World Heritage Fund - which carry a special responsibility for coordinating international assistance.
About the website and its development. A unique feature of this website is that it showcases Africa's world heritage sites through the lens of a camera, providing a slideshow of 30-50 images of each place. The photos tell the story - the landscapes, wildlife, people and conservation needs. They are drawn from a collection of more than 40,000 digital images taken during recent expeditions to 34 of Africa's 38 natural world heritage sites.
Many of Africa's world heritage sites are located in parts of the continent that are extremely difficult to access and rarely visited - including areas of civil strife - so the logistical challenges of reaching so many places across this vast continent have been immense. Two 4WD vehicles have been used extensively, one based in Ghana, the other in Kenya. At many of the world heritage sites, generous support has been provided by individuals and organisations working in the field, at the ‘cutting edge' of conservation. The work of these people is described and their support acknowledged in the individual site descriptions in the ‘Places' section of the website.
About Conservation. In a world of limited resources for conservation it is imperative that the places featured here - the ‘crown jewels' of Africa's national parks and protected areas system - are given the priority attention they deserve by the international community. Sadly, most sites are lacking adequate resources - finance, vehicles, equipment and personnel - to provide proper protection and management. Indeed, the majority of Africa's natural world heritage sites are worse off today than when they were admitted to the prestigious world heritage list. This can sometimes be attributed to armed conflict and civil strife, but far too often it's simply the result of failed management - allowing poaching, illegal settlement, timber extraction and the like, to take its toll. In some cases the road to recovery will be long and hard - but it must be achieved, for these are truly irreplaceable assets. It will require a concerted international commitment.
About the Quick Reference Scores. Each of the places featured in this website is given a five-star rating against various criteria, aimed at providing a ‘rough and ready' assessment of its value, interest and visitor potential. These ratings are inevitably rather subjective, and should be taken only as an expression of opinion. The criteria are as follows: