Ancient cave paintings in the Republic of Chad have been defaced by unidentified vandals.
The site, known as the Ennedi Massif cave paintings, is located at Archei in the stunning landscape of the Ennedi Plateau in the northeast of Chad, near its border with Sudan.
“We discovered inscriptions left by some visitors. They wrote on top of the cave paintings,” said Haroun.
Minister Haroun, a Cannes award-winning filmmaker, described the vandalism as a “tragedy”: The graffiti drawn on the paintings, which are about 8,000 years old, was “a tragedy… offensive to the whole history and memory of Chad.”
According to the BBC, the vandals, suspected to be local youth, scrawled their names on top of the ancient art work in French and Arabic.
Chadian authorities believe the writing consists of “some names” of visitors with some of the latest letterings dating from around January of this year.
The head of UNESCO in Chad Abdelkerim Adoum Bahar told the BBC that he thought the damage could be repaired.
Reports say an advanced team has now been sent to the historic site in northeastern Chad to assess the damage, with plans to send in experts for extensive repair work.
According to UNESCO, most of the Ennedi cave paintings date from around 4,000 years ago and depict some figures and animals, such as giraffes.
“Thousands of images have been painted and carved in to the rock surface of caves, canyons, and shelters, presenting one of the largest ensembles of rock art in the Sahara,” UNESCO says on its website.
In 2016, UNESCO declared the Ennedi Massif alongside its natural and cultural landscape as a world heritage site.