The Cradle of Humankind, also known as "The Home of our Ancestors", was declaired a World Heritage Site (WHS) in December 1999, in Morocco, because of its outstanding universal value, due to archaeological discoveries made within the 13 sites. It is a major tourist destination and attraction in South Africa.
A World Heritage Site has to have exceptional universal value, and is protected and preserved against threats of changing social and economic conditionsa and natural decay. Once a site has been selected, it is included on the World Heritage site list, and is protected for future generations, against threats of damage caused by natural and mechanical conditions.
The Cradle of Humankind is unique in that since 1947, there have been great scientific discoveries which have been a breakthrough in the search for the origins of humankind. Amongsst these, a 3,3 million year old ancestor of humankind was discovered. Some of the other 12 sites where fossils have been discovered, are:
Sterkfontein: - The famous Mrs Ples, 2,5 million years old, and an almost complete skeleton estimated to be about 3,3 million years old. These caves are one of the richest and most productive palaeo- anthropological sites in the world.
Bolt's Farm - Here discoveries of microfauna, estimated to be over 4,5 million years old have been found.
Swartlrans - The earliest known deliberate use of fire, some 1,3 million years ago, have been found on this site.
Kromdraai - In 1938, the first specimen of robust ape-man was discovered at Kromdraai.
Drimolen/ Gladysvale - This is the newest fossil hominid site to be discovered, where specimens of hominids, fauna, plant remains and robust ape-man , dating up to 3 million years, have been found.
Haasgat - Here fossils of forest-dwelling monkeys, dating to approximately 2,8 million years ago, have been found.
Gondolin - Over 90 000 fossil specimens have been discovered on this site since 1979.
There are several more sites where remains have been found, and it is believed that there are many more undiscovered sites yet to be discovered in this area.
One of the most important benefits of being a World Heritage Site is the attractions of national as well as international tourists. We all have a commitment to protect and preserve this site for future generations. There is an onus on all tourists to realize the importance of the Cradle of Humankind by:
Keeping the Site clean.
Following all instructions and rules of the places that they are visiting.
Taking care to avoid any veld fires.
Protecting endangered species.
Not stealing or damanaging any of the fossils, or any other flora and fauna, and to have an educational and entertaining visit, and to encourage friends and family to do the same.
Other places that make The Cradle of Humankind a huge attraction include, game reserves, a show cave (dating back to 2,200 million years ago), trout fishing, conference centres, upmarket Lodges and excellent Restaurants of international standards. Human Origins Tours can be arranged - contact Andrea, 011 486 3083/ 082 921 3155, fax 011 486 3084, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Cradle of Humankind has a bi-monthly newsletter - Maropo Speak - any parties interested in receiving a copy, can contact 011 355 1348/1900 or go to the web www.cradleofhumankind.co.za.
The Cradle of Humankind, where a large number of fossils have been found, is close to Johannesburg. For more info on The Cradle of Humankind, contact The Crocodile Ramble info offices & Tea Garden, at Muldersdrift, on tel/fax: 011 662 2786, cell: 083 284 3523 or e-mail: email@example.com - the Cradle also boasts wonderful walks, horse trails, a Humans origins tour, nature Reserves, an indigenous bird aviary that is truly unique, also crafters, nurseries, superb restaurants and guest houses.