Fossil hominid sites

The Fossil Hominid Sites of South Africa, a serial World Heritage Site, includes the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, Taung Skull Fossil World Heritage Site, and Makapan Valley World Heritage Site

The Republic of South Africa signed the World Heritage Convention in 1997, and ratified the World Heritage Convention in 1999, through the promulgation of the World Heritage Convention Act 44 of 1999 (see below to view or download), which falls under the competency of the national Department of Environmental Affairs. During the course of 1998 and 1999, the South African government submitted the first three site nominations to UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee for inscription on the World Heritage List.

On 4 December 1999, the Fossil Hominid Sites of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai and Environs were inscribed as a Cultural World Heritage Site in terms of Criteria III and VI of the Operational Guidelines (see below to view or download).

On 15 July 2005, the World Heritage Site nomination dossiers for the Taung Skull Fossil site and the Makapan Valley site were approved by the World Heritage Committee, resulting in the extension of the listing of the Fossil Hominid Sites of South Africa to be a serial listing, comprising three World Heritage Site properties – the original Fossil Hominid Sites of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai and Environs (commonly known as the “Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site”), the Taung Skull Fossil World Heritage Site and Makapan Valley World Heritage Site. 

The significance of the serial World Heritage Site was summarised in the decision by the World Heritage Committee as follows: “These sites have produced abundant scientific information on the origin and evolution of human beings over the past 3.5million years, their way of life, and the animals with which they lived and on which they fed. The Taung Skull Fossil Site is the place where in 1924 the celebrated Taung Skull – a specimen of the species Australopithecus africanus – was found. The [Sterkfontein Valley] landscape also preserves many features of that of prehistoric man.”

More information on the World Heritage property and the significance of each site can be found on the UNESCO website

The Fossil Hominid Sites of South Africa was declared a World Heritage Site in terms of the World Heritage Convention Act on 18 December 2007 (see below to view or download WHCA) by the then-minister of environmental affairs and tourism. 

Click on any of the files below to view:

World Heritage Convention Act (WHCA) of 1999The COHWHS was promulgated in accordance with the WHCADownload
UNESCO ConventionThe WHCA makes the UNESCO Convention law in SADownload
UNESCO Convention operational guidelinesThe WHCA makes the operational guidelines law in SADownload
NEMPAA, Act 57 of 1993The COHWHS is protected in accordance with NEMPAA and its regulationsDownload
NEMPAA regulationsThe COHWHS is protected in accordance with NEMPAA and its regulationsDownload
Notice 2007/12/18The geographic boundaries of the COHWHS were first promulgated in the following notice Download
Buffer 2008/09/05The intention to proclaim a revised boundary and a new buffer was promulgated in the following notice Download
Promulgation 2006The Management Authority of the COHWHS was proclaimed in 2006Download
NEMANEMA is the primary framework national Act applicable to the governance and management of the environment in South Africa in accordance with the environmental right contained in section 24 of the ConstitutionDownload
NEMA regulation 543The NEMA EIA Regulations 543, 543, 544, 545, 546 and 547 are the current regulations promulgated in terms of the NEMA aimed at regulating and setting out the processes and administrative requirements for conducting environmental impact assessments in South Africa in order to minimise or avoid environmental damage caused by developmentDownload
NEMA regulation 544The NEMA EIA Regulations 543, 543, 544, 545, 546 and 547 are the current regulations promulgated in terms of the NEMADownload
NEMA regulation 545The NEMA EIA Regulations 543, 543, 544, 545, 546 and 547 are the current regulations promulgated in terms of the NEMADownload
NEMA regulation 546The NEMA EIA Regulations 543, 543, 544, 545, 546 and 547 are the current regulations promulgated in terms of the NEMADownload
NEMA regulation 547The NEMA EIA Regulations 543, 543, 544, 545, 546 and 547 are the current regulations promulgated in terms of the NEMADownload
NEMBAThe primary function of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act is to provide for the management and conservation of South Africa’s biodiversity within the framework of the National Environmental Management ActDownload
NEMBA regulation 152The regulations for threatened and protected species promulgated in terms of the NEMBA are aimed at regulating matters regarding identified threatened and protected species.Download
NEMBA 138The regulations for bio-prospecting, access and benefit-sharing promulgated in terms of the NEMBA are aimed at regulating matters regarding bio-prospecting, access and benefit-sharing as defined in the Biodiversity ActDownload
SAHRA 1999The National Heritage Resources Act is the primary national legislation applicable to the management and governance of heritage resources in South AfricaDownload