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TThe discovery of a new species of human, the Homo Naledi, is an exciting scientific breakthrough and reaffirms the Cradle of Humankind as the authentic birthplace of our kind. As such, it has made a huge, unanticipated stride as a tourist attraction in South Africa.
“The Cradle of Humankind is one of South Africa’s World Heritage sites, and this thrilling find naturally elevates it to an even more fascinating place to visit, a bucket list experience that is powerfully educational and illuminating about the origins of humankind,” says South African Tourism CEO Thulani Nzima.
The rich story of our humanity begins at the Cradle of Humankind, 50km northwest of Johannesburg, home to around 40% of the world's human ancestor fossils. It is the world's richest hominin site, some dating back as far as 3.5 million years ago. Sterkfontein Caves alone have produced more than a third of early hominid fossils ever found prior to 2010.
“This new chapter adds immensely to the treasure trove of knowledge we already have about where we came from. It also exemplifies what binds us rather than divides us, highlighting that we are all part of a global human family whose origins are right here, in South Africa,” says Nzima.
Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom, also announced that R22 million will be allocated for the renovation of Maropeng; the visitor's centre, the picnic site to encourage more family visits,and an interactive laboratory where young learners can get involved in the paleontology work done there. The money will also go to planning a 500-seater amphitheatre in the area.
South African Tourism would also like to extend its heartfelt congratulations to the team that worked tirelessly to bring us this remarkable scientific exposition. In particular, to Professor Lee Berger, who is South African Tourism’s Business Events Ambassador, for leading the two expeditions that discovered and recovered the fossils.