Saturday, February 23, 2008

Valley of the Whales - Wadi Al Hitan

Al Ahram Weekly (Mahmoud Bakr)

In an event organised by the Ministry of Environment, Mrs Suzanne Mubarak inaugurated the Valley of the Whales Protected Area in Fayoum. The valley is part of the Wadi Al-Rayan Protected Area, 150km southeast of Cairo and home to hundreds of fossils of maritime creatures that lived 40 million years ago, when the valley was covered by sea.

"The Valley of the Whales was declared a natural world heritage area in 2005 due to its concentration of fossilised skeletons of whales and other maritime creatures," said Minister of State for Environmental Affairs Maged George at the event. "Remains of those extinct creatures shed light on the evolution of maritime life over millions of years." George said that President Mubarak has made the environment a top government priority. Article 59, recently added to the constitution, states that "protecting the environment is a national duty."

Mustafa Fouda, chairman of the Natural Protectorate Sector at the Environmental Affairs Agency, said that the World Conservation Union has declared the area a world heritage zone. Egypt has submitted studies detailing findings in the valley to international organisations and, as a result, UNESCO described the area as the best region for whale skeletons in the world.

See the above page for the full story.

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