Serengeti nature reserve threatened


This video is a Serengeti documentary.

Reports now circulating on the web suggest that the Government of Tanzania has given the go ahead for a road to be built right across the Serengeti, potentially blocking the migration route of the wildebeest, threatening the wildlife with a large amount of high speed traffic and providing easy access to many poachers: here.

Africa’s Greatest Wildlife Migration Threatened By Highway: here.

August 2010. Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) have both stepped into the growing controversy over the proposed Serengeti Highway (Published in Wildlife Extra in June). Both renowned establishments are requesting that the Government of Tanzania reconsider the proposed construction of a commercial road through the world’s best known wildlife sanctuary-Serengeti National Park-and recommend that alternative routes be used that can meet the transportation needs of the region without disrupting the greatest remaining migration of large land animals in the world: here.

Serengeti highway could spell environmental disaster for Tanzania: here.

Serengeti highway will cut wildebeest herds by a minimum of 35%: here.

Tanzania: A network of local civil society organisations yesterday filed a fresh petition against the government’s intention to construct a highway across the Serengeti National Park.Mazingira Network (Manet) said the proposed highway would compromise the ecological integrity of the park which is also an important world heritage site: here.

A wildebeest calf turns the tables on a hungry lion in the Masai Mara: pictures by Paul Goldstein: here.

9 thoughts on “Serengeti nature reserve threatened

  1. The East African (Nairobi)

    Tanzania: Outcry in West Over Plan to Build Road Through Serengeti

    21 June 2010

    Nairobi — The Tanzanian government’s plan to build a road linking Arusha and Musoma is being opposed by wildlife advocates in the United States and other developed countries who warn that the route will disrupt the wildebeest migration and thus badly damage Tanzania’s tourism-dependent economy.

    A Facebook page posted under the heading “Stop the Serengeti Highway” has generated thousands of petition signatures in two weeks.

    The campaign against the road has been further propelled by a New York Times blogger, Olivia Judson, who laments that the proposed road will smudge Tanzania’s “outstanding record of conservation.”

    Expressing befuddlement as to why this route has been chosen, the Times blogger notes that President Jakaya Kikwete “is known for his interest in nature.”

    Just last month, the president personally greeted six black rhinos flown into the Serengeti from South Africa as part of an effort to regenerate the species in Tanzania, Ms Judson notes.

    The $480-million highway is planned to link Arusha and the Maasai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya through the Serengeti National Park, a statement by Isidori Shirima, Arusha Regional Commissioner said.

    There has been a three-year protest by green activists, including the Tanzania National Parks Authority, against interference with the wildebeest migration route.

    According to Mr Shirima, the government deemed the proposed 480km Arusha-Musoma tarmac road to be of great socioeconomic significance for Tanapa.

    Of the project’s total cost, $260 million will cover the Arusha-Serengeti section and $220 million the Serengeti-Musoma segment.

    Deusdedit Kakoko, the regional manager for Tanzania Roads Agency, said work will begin early 2012 while feasibility studies are to be completed by the end of this year.

    Some activists alarmed by the road’s potential impact note that it enjoys the support of local communities through which it would pass.

    And a few Times readers commenting on Ms Judson’s blog posting argue that the road is essential to Tanzania’s development and should not be opposed by well-off outsiders.

    Traders and travellers from the heavily populated area to be served by the proposed road must currently loop more than 418Km to the south to skirt the protected Serengeti, an environmentalist website acknowledges.

    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,” Mr Shelutete said.

    “No big project of this scale would be contemplated without a thorough feasibility study, and it has shown that there will be no impact on the migration.”

    He noted that only an unpaved 40-mile stretch of the two-lane road’s 480km length will pass through the Serengeti.

    But that may be enough to disrupt the annual movement of tens of thousands of wildebeest between the Mara and Serengeti watering grounds, wildlife advocates say.

    The road will also open opportunities for poaching and increase the risk of transmitting diseases to wildebeest from livestock transported through the park, they argue.

    The entire ecosystem of the Serengeti, which is of great economic as well as environmental importance to Tanzania, could suffer negative consequences if the wildebeest migration does not occur, the activists add.

    Concerns

    The northern route newly approved by the government has previously been rejected on environmental grounds, the Times blogger points out.

    “One of the most awe-inspiring sights on the planet may soon vanish, killed by a road,” she warns the paper’s readers.

    Elsewhere, in Holland, Grant Hopcraft, an expert in wildebeest movements from the University of Groningen, said he was concerned about the prospect of cutting off one side of the migration from the other.

    “There is the obvious concern of creating a physical barrier. Wildebeest have no problem crossing roads, but there is nothing elsewhere in the Serengeti with this high capacity for traffic,” he told the UK-based Daily Telegraph newspaper.

    By the end of last week n online petition had started against the proposed road which had gathered over 2,000 signatures from around the world.

    The Telegraph report said that the Masai Mara, which borders the Serengeti, could also be affected as 1.8 million wildebeest and 500,000 zebra — and the lions, hyenas, cheetahs and wild dogs that stalk them – are constantly moving between the two areas.

    More than 100,000 tourists visit the Masai Mara during the peak migration months between July and October.

    Critics say the new commercial highway will cut through key migration routes and could permanently change this natural wonder.

    Tanzania’s government this month approved the new road linking the two towns, which will come as a considerable relief to traders and travellers.

    But Kenyan tourist officials remain worried. “We’re very concerned about this road, and are waiting for details while hoping the authorities have thoroughly investigated all possible alternatives,” said Jake Grieves-Cook, the head of the Kenya Tourist Board.

    Tanzania’s authorities are finalising design options, and it is expected that construction could start within 12 months.

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  2. The Citizen (Dar es Salaam)

    Tanzania: Political Establishment Tramples On Nyerere Legacy

    Wolfgang H. Thome

    17 August 2010

    The survival of our wildlife is a matter of grave concern to all of us in Africa. These wild creatures amid the wild places they inhabit are not only important as a source of wonder and inspiration, but are an integral part of our natural resources and our future livelihood and well being.

    “In accepting the trusteeship of our wildlife we solemnly declare that we will do everything in our power to make sure that our children’s grand-children will be able to enjoy this rich and precious inheritance.

    “The conservation of wildlife and wild places calls for specialist knowledge, trained manpower and money, and we look to other nations to cooperate with us in this important task – the success or failure of which not only affects the continent of Africa but the rest of the world as well.”

    This is a quote from Julius K. Nyerere, father of the Tanzanian nation and founder president of the United Republic of Tanzania, in his pre-independence Arusha Manifesto, 1961.

    The recent announcement by President Jakaya Kikwete that “the Serengeti road will go ahead” was a hard slap in the face of the legacy left by founding father Julius Mwalimu Nyerere, who had immediately prior to Independence in his Arusha Manifesto vowed to protect the Serengeti and recognized its importance as a world heritage, belonging to all of mankind. It is also a stark departure from not only these but other “teachings” of Nyerere, too, whom Kikwete has often described as his political mentor and inspiration.

    Plans to build the hugely controversial highway across the sprawling wilderness, home of the one of the last of the world’s great herds of migrating wildlife, have repeatedly been defeated in the past, but industrial mining interests, allegedly combined with huge campaign donations, are hard at work to succeed this time around.

    International financing institutions like the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the East African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, and others will be reluctant though to fund such a project, as their own environmental guidelines prohibit them from touching such follies and as opposition is already forming on their own doorsteps by conservation NGOs, civil society, and an unfolding letter and email campaign by thousands of individuals from around the world.

    Such concerted efforts ordinarily swiftly throw a spanner in the work of assessing loan and grant applications and these bi- and multi-lateral institutions are not likely to incur the wrath of influential NGOs in their own back yards when an alternative route is available.

    That alternative route would benefit millions more people with access to markets and urban centres than the Northern route but has been dismissed as not viable by some Tanzanian governmental politicians. Yet, much of official Tanzania certainly ignores if not outright disowns that alternative route option in the face of expert advice available to them.

    The Southern Route, as can be seen on websites advocating against the route through the park, is meeting the access needs of more villages and productive agricultural areas and still connects the very parts of Tanzania the present park road proposal seems to secure. The minor climb down by government last week, “not to tarmac” the park section, is minimalist in its nature as a commercial road, even if only constructed with murram, will still attract thundering trucks, since at both ends of the park tarmac is beckoning for them. Other government officials are pointing to “existing roads through the Serengeti,” conveniently mixing the term “road” with the type of tracks established and maintained by the park authorities. These tracks are narrow, often causing even safari 4x4s to pass each other at walking speed, while the proposed commercial road would be of standard width to permit heavy traffic to pass each other or overtake with ease.

    It has been established that countries applying lesser standards for loans and known to habitually ignore the issues of environmental protection, are likely to step forward and offer funding against securing concessions and the hope of huge profits, leaving Tanzania in the end with deep holes in the ground, a wrecked and poisoned environment, and the loss of biodiversity and the big herds in the Serengeti, bled dry of natural resources and likely left in greater poverty rather than less.

    Intriguing enough, it is one of those “usual suspect” countries, which is constantly in the news when the smuggling of ivory and rhino horn is mentioned in the media and many citizens from that country in the Far East have been arrested for their involvement in smuggling blood ivory and poaching operations, not just in Eastern Africa but also further down south on the continent, where the problem is even more acute.

    It has become evident now that the Save the Serengeti coalition needs to shift their focus to lobby their respective home governments and global institutions and have Tanzanian plans exposed, so that at least a temporary status can be attached to the country until the route for the road is shifted to the Southern side of the Serengeti, where according to information at hand, a great multiple of a population would benefit from the road links – but, of course, lengthening the access route for the future miners, their equipment, and supplies.

    The mention by the president last week, when he pointed to opposition to the road coming mostly from outside Tanzania, is – while technically correct – also an affirmation of having successfully muzzled dissent to the project within Tanzania, leaving only web-based media to give information to the Tanzanian people as their own media continues to let them down. Even media contacts, known to this correspondent for many years, have become shy to even discuss the issue by phone or exchange emails on the matter, with two giving almost identical responses: “you know how things are, this is election time, don’t put me at risk please. We see what is written on the Internet and appreciate [it], but Tanzanians really cannot speak up against it. Just remember what happened to the former TANAPA chief who was completely opposed to this road.”

    Serengeti Shall Not Die for the last nearly 60 years was the slogan the world listened to, attracting huge funding and a huger following by friends of the Serengeti, and of Tanzania, from abroad, but for how much longer that will continue, should this project go ahead?

    The project is, according to the available projections and studies carried out before, a certain death sentence for the Serengeti herds’ migration pattern.

    In a related, and under the circumstances truly ironic development, last week the Ngorongoro Conservation area, including the Olduvai Gorge, was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site alongside the Serengeti, a status the latter will surely lose if indeed the road project goes ahead as presently suggested.

    This article was first published last Sunday in the eTurboNews online magazine, which specialises in global travel industry news. Editor’s note: President Jakaya Kikwete said during his July end-of-the-month address to the nation that the 50km stretch of the road linking Arusha amd Musoma that passes through the Serengeti National Park would not be paved.

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  3. Greens fearful for park’s future

    Environment: British conservationists have joined calls for the Tanzanian government to rethink plans to build a road through the Serengeti that could harm one of the world’s great animal migrations.

    The Zoological Society of London is concerned that a road bisecting the north part of the national park would disrupt the migration of two million wildebeest and zebra and hit local people through a loss of income from wildlife tourism.

    http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/index.php/news/content/view/full/94446

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  4. The Citizen (Dar es Salaam)

    Tanzania: There is Not Justifiable Need in Serengeti for a Highway

    25 October 2010

    An open letter to President Jakaya Kikwete on the proposed Mto wa Mbu-Loliondo-Mugumu road project.

    With respect and humility, I request you to grant me audience through this newspaper, as I am aware that you have a very busy schedule. Coming just after the celebration of Nyerere Day,

    in honour of the legacy of founding President Julius Nyerere, my theme is that our nation has been encroached on and infested with a new kind of slavery, with the sale of self, values or public office for personal gain.

    Leaving the Environmental Impact Assessment Report that you reordered aside; many pleas against the project dwell on tourism infrastructure, which contributes a significant share in job creation and national revenue, environmental damage is a subject very close to your heart, since you have been promoting Tanzania overseas during your travels. You are also well regarded locally and internationally as an environmentalist.

    I would put my emphasis on how the commercial road construction will impact on the rural communities it is supposed to serve both on the western side of Serengeti National Park (Senapa) and its eastern counterpart.

    Humans believe they are superior to all other living things. It, therefore, makes sense that all other living things in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) and Senapa are subject to the demands of human activity and settlement. Though, the activists against the project have not satisfied you, as to their grounds of their protest, I believe the proposed alternative might provide a ‘win-win’ situation.

    Senior government and CCM officials have supported the project. Other “patriotic Tanzanians”JComments ON have argued that as an independent state, we are not subject to the whims and directives of foreign (and former colonial) powers on how we plan for own economic progress.

    The Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) has carried out research on the Senapa for more than 50 years. The human population to the north east of Senapa was last year estimated at less than 1 million. The area comprises game reserves, clusters of villages and towns, including Loliondo, and its environs to as far as the southern parts of Lake Natron.

    These communities mainly depend on subsistence agriculture and pastoralism. From their harvest of crops, dairy products and meat, what is not consumed finds its way to Arusha or Kenya. Karatu, Mto wa Mbu and their environs are the fruit and vegetable baskets for Arusha and beyond. Their produce does not rot in farms or stores for lack of a market.

    Communities east of the Serengeti do not need a new highway. The same applies to the western side of Senapa. There is really no reason to build a highway between Mugumu – Loliondo – Mto wa Mbu. But if the government goes ahead with the project, what next?

    * There will be a need to establish permanent maintenance camps, service stations, rest points and other human activity facilities;

    * Satellite villages will emerge within the conservation, reserve and park boundaries;

    * The speed limits for parks will not apply on the highway;

    * A standard two-way lane highway is at least 10 metres, with a ‘service area of about five meters each side. We shall end up with a ‘belt’ 20 metres wide;

    As the Kiswahili adage goes, ‘Aendapo mamba, kenge hufuata’ (Where the crocodile goes, the monitor lizard will follow’). The 1.5 million or so wildebeest migration is also joined by other species, including zebra and impala, and the hunting animals like lions, hyena, and cheetah – this cycle will be severely disturbed.

    There are land disputes in the areas east of Senapa, within the NCA and their environs. Cases of violence and human rights abuses have occurred. The project will possibly aggravate such misunderstandings between the locals and the government. The highway will also open the floodgates of land grabbers in the guise of ‘investors’ – both local and foreign.

    Our country has been infested by a new form of slavery, where senior public officials ‘sell’ their value or positions to bidders for personal gain. I have termed them ‘VOLUNTARY SLAVES’ for want of a better term. To honour the Father of the Nation, Mwalimu Nyerere, we must maintain our national pride, refuse to sell our values and seek the maximum good for the majority citizens, who are the rural communities.

    The ‘win-win’ solution is the southern route that can serve five times the number of local communities the Serengeti highway is envisaged to cater for. All this information is available on the website ‘www.savetheserengeti.org’ and its links. Please reconsider the decision in your known wisdom, discernment and farsightedness. It’s my ardent wish that the Serengeti symphony of nature will not become a Serengeti tragedy of human folly! I wish you continued good health, strength and wisdom.

    Bipin Vishani, Msasani, Dar es Salaam.

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