Shocking, what do you think about this; the road through the Serengeti will eventually ‘kill the migration’… ?

14 07 2010

Wildebeest crossing - TanzaniaSource:

Tanzania authorities are planning to construct a commercial highway across the Serengeti National Park marking an end to one of the world’s greatest spectacles, the wildebeest migration.

The road will have untold environmental impacts and could sever a critical corridor for the annual migration of hundreds of thousands of wildebeests, zebra and other animals.

Pascal Shelutete, spokesman for the Tanzanian National Parks Authority, was quoted in a recent UK Daily Telegraph story in defence of the project. “This new road will bring a great benefit to the economy of this cut-off part of the country, and ease the movement of people and goods,” he says.

Conservationists including AWF and tour companies in USA are petitioning the Tanzanian government to halt these plans. A Facebook petition to stop the Serengetti Highway has attracted the attention of the Tanzanian government who, foolishly still defend this irrational project.

In an interview with The East African, Tanzanian authorities claim that “No big project of this scale would be contemplated without a thorough feasibility study [really?], and it has shown that there will be no impact on the migration [Oh please don't insult our intelligence].”  Everyone knows only too well that such a road will directly affect the migration in Tanzania and Kenya as the animals move north. Additionally, increased ‘human encroachment’ will lead to an escalation of poaching activities and diseases to the wild animals.

From another source:

In a recent interview, the Tanzanian Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Shamsa Mwangunga, made it clear that the decision is simply to fulfill a campaign promise made by President Jakaya Kikwete in 2005, that the fourth phase administration would complete construction of the $480 million Arusha-Musoma road. She said the main reason for constructing the road connecting Arusha-Musoma was to satisfy public interests – the current option is a 418km route that skirts around the southern end of the Serengeti National Park.

Conservationists argue that this northern part of the Serengeti is untouched and should remain so. A massive road through the area will physically block the migration, introduce invasive species, and lead to greater poaching – ultimately killing the migration altogether. Clearly perturbed by the public outcry, Ms. Mwangunga retorted that, “those criticising the road construction know nothing about what we’ve planned…We’re all keen to preserve our natural resources…We’ll never compromise on that”.

It is unfortunate that the Tanzanian authorities are fighting conservationists over the proposed development instead of realizing that the wildebeest migration is necessarily an integral part of the future development plans of the region. The migration already attracts tens of millions of dollars in tourism revenues for Tanzania, this will continue to grow if the migration is intact, especially with the opening up of the East African community and co-marketing with Kenya.

What do you think?



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