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?



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

14 07 2010
Kaylee (12:36:55) :

Sounds like a horrible plan. I haven’t been to Tanzania but to see a huge road cutting across the Serengeti – well, i don’t really want to go then! And as for the FAMOUS migration…?

14 07 2010
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14 07 2010
Garth (21:26:21) :

Shocking – if it was April month I would have thought this was an April Fools joke. I just hope enough pressure will prevent this from happening.

30 07 2010
Jacques (09:13:34) :

Ridiculous! Some parts of the world should be left untouched! Empower the people by teaching them to live sustainably, and don’t build a highway to bring “civilization” to them!

6 08 2010
Shanti (07:37:03) :

Please do not destroy the natural wonders that has been created for us…look what development has done to other parts of the world!!

9 08 2010
Wildlife Tours (10:47:02) :

This is just another example of money and ‘progress’ carrying on without any regard for the environment, surely the Tanzanian government realise the money they receive through eco-tourism could be ended with this road!

12 08 2010
L.Cohen (17:04:12) :

No way, this is a horrible idea!
They can not even think about building a road through the migration path, surely there is another alternative…


19 08 2010 (10:54:58) :

we have had the burning of the grass near the Tanzania – Uganda border to have the migration delayed in tanzania, now its the road, why do we want to stop nature from taking its course.

14 02 2011


The Government has reassured the international community that Tanzania will never do anything to hurt or take any decision that may irresponsibly destroy the Serengeti National Park such as building a tarmac road through the Park.

However, the Government has reiterated its commitment to meet its responsibilities of supporting development efforts of poorer communities living around the park including building a tarmac road on the northern tip of the park to ease the severe transport challenges facing those communities.

“The Serengeti is a jewel of our nation as well as for the international community. We want to give you our assurances that we cannot be irresponsible by destroying the Serengeti. We will do nothing to hurt the Serengeti and we would like the international community to know this,” President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete told Mr. John McIntire, World Bank Country Director today, Wednesday, February 9, 2011 during a courtesy call on the President at the State House in Dar es Salaam.The Dar es Salaam-based Mr. McIntire also represents the Bank in Uganda and Burundi.

Armed with an illustration of a map of northern Tanzania, President Kikwete told Mr. McIntire: “There has been so much unnecessary confusion about this issue. Let me give you my assurances that we will keep the Serengeti intact. We will not build a tarmac road through the Serengeti National Park. We will only build a road around the park to ease very serious transport challenges facing the poorer communities around the park.”

Under the plan, the Government wants to decongest traffic inside the park that currently crosses the Serengeti daily on a 220-kilometer road which passes right through the park. Instead, a planned road will only cross the Serengeti for only 54 kilometers which will remain unpaved.

In recent months, a global network of environmental activists and conservators has mounted a completely misinformed campaign claiming that the Government of Tanzania intends to destroy the Serengeti by building tarmac road through the park, which will seriously hurt the famous migration of wildlife.

“No tarmac road will be built through the Serengeti. As you know well, Tanzania is the most conservatory country in the world. This has been our policy and position since our independence and you can have my assurances that this position will remain unchanged,” said President Kikwete

“While we will continue protecting our Serengeti seriously, we will also make sure that, as Government, we meet our responsibilities to our people. These people living in the northern side of the park were removed from inside the park itself as part of our conservation efforts. It takes about eight hours of very rough travel to reach their area from Mto wa Mbu town, and it is only 170 kilometers stretch. They have no road. They have no water. They have no power. We will be doing huge injustice if we do not move to correct these imbalances. If they perceive that we don’t care about them, they will easily become enemies of the park and that will harder to deal with.”

“We will continue with our serious efforts of conservation, but we cannot deny these people living on the northern side of the Serengeti border a road. There is neither justification nor explanation for not building this important road.”

The President thanked Mr. McIntire for his suggestion that the World Bank would be willing to fund processes leading to building a tarmac road on the southern side of Serengeti National Park but insisted that the road to the south would not solve transport challenges of communities living on the northern side of the park.

Issued by: Directorate of Presidential Communications, State House. Dar es Salaam. 9th February, 2011