Endangered Somaliland Cave Art
One of the most beautify and well preserved cave art in the world can be found in Somaliland .
Somaliland is a former British protectorate . Declared independence from Somalia during the war for overthrowing the the Somalian president Said Barre in 1991 . The paintings at Laas Geel are really unique . Such style is unseen anywhere in Africa . The cave art is least 5000 years old . It was a home of spirits and place for rituals .
Accordingly to the site manager Abdisalam Shabelleh a great danger lies upon the unique cave art . The painting are slowly fading . The corrosion also plays its parts and the rocks are slowly pealing off . Accordingly to Abdisalam if nothing is done the unique cave art will be irreversibly damaged within 20 years or so . Unfortunately as a newly proclaimed country Somaliland don’t have the financial recourses , neither the knowledge to recover and preserve this ancient spiritual site .
The Laas Geel is only 50 km. away from the Somaliland capital Hargeisa
It is among the oldest cave paintings in Africa and may be the best preserved . It attracts thousands of tourists each year .
The site was found in 2002 by a French archaeology team leaded by Xavier Gutherz. Since then the Somaliland government has tried to raise funds by every means. Unfortunately because of some bureaucratic obstacles they fail . First Xavier Gutherz tried sending to UNESCO a request the site to be listed as a world heritage . The application was rejected , due to the fact that Somaliland wasn’t officially recognized as a nation . Accordingly to UNSECO rules "Only state parties to the World Heritage Convention can nominate sites for World Heritage status"
The government is trying to call upon funding from donor countries . Their request has been rejected due to the same reason
It is a pure luck that the place remains preserved till present days . A major role in its preservation has played the local beliefs that the place was home of evil spirits . Unfortunately this won’t stop the corrosion .
The popularity of the site is growing every year , which attracts even more tourists . Regrettably with the of tourists numbers the danger for the cave art is growing . "The increased human activity in the area, trampling on the bare gravelly soil, does not allow the natural regeneration of plants," Awale said .
Archaeologists believe that the cave art in Laas Geel is only the tip of the iceberg
Musa Abdi Jama , one of the two guards protecting the site says : "Here, it was once known as the home of djinn (spirits) by the local nomadic people, who used to slaughter domestic animals for sacrifice in order to live there in peace,"
No matter what the cave art in Laas Geel is it's a priceless treasure that must be preserve. We can only hope that this won’t happened .
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