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Lakes of Ounianga Chad

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The Lakes of Ounianga includes 18 interconnected lakes in the hyper arid Ennedi region of the Sahara Desert covering an area of 62,808 hectares. It constitutes an exceptional natural landscape of great beauty with striking colours and shapes. The saline, hyper saline and freshwater lakes are supplied by groundwater and are found in two groups 40 kilometres apart. Ounianga Kebir comprises four lakes the largest of which, Yoan, covers an area of 358 hectares and is 27 metres deep. Its highly saline waters only sustain algae and some microorganisms. The second group, Ounianga Serir, comprises 14 lakes separated by sand dunes. Floating reeds cover almost half the surface of these lakes reducing evaporation. At 436 hectares, Lake Teli has the largest surface area but is less than ten metres deep. With their high quality freshwater, some of these lakes are home to aquatic fauna, particularly fish.

Lakes of Ounianga
Continent: Africa
Country: Chad
Category: Natural
Criterion: (VII)
Date of Inscription: 2012

The largest permanent freshwater lakes system

Located in North-Eastern Chad, in a hot and hyperarid desert setting with less than 2mm rainfall per year, the Lakes of Ounianga comprises a total of 18 lakes, in two groups, displaying a variety of sizes, depths, colorations and chemical compositions. The property covers 62,808 ha and has a 4,869 ha buffer zone. The Lakes of Ounianga property is located in a basin which, less than 10,000 years ago, was occupied by a much larger lake and has a globally unique hydrological system, sustaining the largest permanent freshwater lakes system in the heart of a hyperarid environment.

Lakes of Ounianga Chad
Lakes of Ounianga

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Aesthetic Features

The property also displays a range of striking aesthetic features, with varied coloration associated with the different lakes and their vegetation, and the presence of dramatic natural desert landforms that all contribute to the exceptional natural beauty of the landscape of the property. The shape and distribution of the lakes, combined with the effect of the wind moving the floating vegetation in the lakes, gives the impression of "waves of water flowing in the desert".

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