Starting with the first case of vandalism in 2009, the destruction of the ancient cave art at Tadrart Acacus in Libya has become worse since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Just how bad is the damage? In some cases, like the painting above, the destruction is complete.
Vandals have destroyed prehistoric rock art in lawless southern Libya, endangering a sprawling tableau of paintings and carvings classified by UNESCO as of “outstanding universal value.”
Located along Libya’s southwestern tip bordering Algeria, the Tadrart Acacus mountain massif is famous for thousands of cave paintings and carvings going back up to 14,000 years.
The art, painted or carved on rocks sandwiched by spectacular sand dunes, showcase the changing flora and fauna of the Sahara stretching over thousands of years. Highlights include a huge elephant carved on a rock face as well as giraffes, cows and ostriches rendered in caves dating back to an era when the region was not inhospitable desert.
But on a recent visit to Libya’s remote far south, many of the ancient paintings destroyed or damaged by graffiti sprayers or people carving in their initials.