Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site (COHWHS)

Contact Details

Postal PO Box 155, Newtown, 2113
Physical Cradle of Humankind, 8th Floor, 124 Main Street, Cnr Main/Kruis/Marshall Streets, Johannesburg, 2000
Tel 011 085 2481


The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site (COHWHS) is one of South Africa’s leading World Heritage Sites as a 53 000 hectare site of global significance, with over 400 accompanying diverse offerings for visitors. Its mission is to protect, conserve and interpret the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. It was established and inscribed in 1999 on UNESCO’s World Heritage List because of the wealth of fossils found in the area and, in particular, fossils of ancient humans. It is an area that has yielded and has continued to produce an enormous amount of information about our human origins. Apart from its scientific value, the site has been developed in order to create employment and regional economic development through the use of science, conservation and tourism as economic drivers aimed at alleviating poverty and stimulating the economy of the region. In so doing, the province has used conservation as a catalyst for economic change and regional development.

This World Heritage Site is managed on behalf of the Minister of Environmental Affairs by the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site Management Authority. The primary goal of the Management Authority is to protect, conserve and interpret the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the site. The Authority also facilitates and supports ongoing scientific research in the site; ensures tangible community beneficiation, and growth in the visitor economy of the COHWHS; ensures that development within the COHWHS maintains the OUV; supports the participation of small enterprises and cooperatives in the visitor economy of the COHWHS; and collaborates with all role-players involved in the socio-economic development of the Western Corridor. While the protection and conservation of the fossil sites that constitute the OUV of the site is of paramount importance in the overall management of the site, a great emphasis is placed on the management of the site with and for surrounding communities.

The official visitor centre in the COHWHS is Maropeng, which means ‘returning to the place from where we come’ in Setswana, and was officially opened to the public in December 2005. Together with the Sterkfontein Caves site, which is owned by the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS), these two sites constitute the broader Interpretation Centre of the COHWHS. This architecturally unique centre allows every visitor to embark on a journey of discovery that begins with the birth of our planet, through the history of humankind, and into the future. Maropeng also has an original fossil display area where fossils are replenished regularly, education and conferencing facilities, a boutique hotel with incredible views, and a restaurant. The world-famous Sterkfontein Caves continue to attract many visitors, and also boasts an exhibition and offers the opportunity for a guided tour of the caves. The World Heritage site is a unique and iconic project that blends science and conservation with community capacitation, local economic development and tourism. The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site will continue to concentrate on excellent service delivery to its province and its people.

Overseeing Department/Entity

The information in this directory is compiled from various sources and is subject to continual change. If you notice any errors or omissions, contact us so that we may correct them.