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UN designates Indian mountain range a World Heritage Site


A male Indian elephant eats bamboo as he walks through Bandipur National Park, some 150 miles southwest of Bangalore in May 2005. This week UNESCO named the Western Ghats mountain range, where Bandipur is located, a World Heritage Site. The area is a biodiversity hot spot.

India's Western Ghats mountain range -- a biodiversity hot spot whose forests are older than those of the Himalayas -- has been named a World Heritage Site.

Recognized as one of the world's eight "hottest hot spots of biological diversity, the 1600-kilometer long range, which runs from the border of Gujarat and Maharashtra to the southern tip of India, was added to the World Heritage list by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) this week, reports the Hindustan Times.

A historic opera house in Germany, a border town and its fortifications in Portugal, and eight interconnected lakes in Chad were also added to the list, the paper said.

The Western Ghats range boasts over 5000 species of flowering plants, 139 mammal species, 508 bird species and 179 amphibian species -- including at least 325 globally threatened species.

India first applied for World Heritage Site status for the mountains in 2006.