Tanzania Serengeti conservation victory

This video is called SAVE OUR PLANET – Serengeti road cancelled.

From Wildlife Extra:

Tanzania Government ditches Serengeti Highway

Tanzania steps up for the Serengeti and says ‘no’ to an asphalt road

June 2011. The proposed asphalt road which would have bisected the Serengeti National Park, jeopardising the world’s last great mammal migration, will not now be built, the Tanzanian Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism has announced at the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting.

As the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting comes to a close in Paris, the conservation community congratulates President Kikwete and the Tanzanian Government for their decision to reconsider the proposed North Road through the Serengeti National Park.

Roads outside the park will be upgraded

Hon. Ezekiel Maige, Tanzania’s Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, confirmed that the existing tourist route would remain as it is, while roads outside the Park to District capitals would be upgraded. “This decision has been reached in order to address the increasing socio-economic needs of the rural communities in northern Tanzania, while safeguarding the Outstanding Universal Value of Serengeti National Park,” stated the Minister.

World’s largest protected grassland and savannah ecosystem

The Serengeti National Park, a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site, is the world’s largest protected grassland and savannah ecosystem, and provides the stage for one of the last terrestrial animal mass migrations on earth. Shaped by the circular march of some two million herbivores, including wildebeest and zebra, in their endless search for forage and water, the park supports one of the world’s highest concentrations of large predators, and is home to over 450 bird species. It is also of huge importance for Tanzania’s tourism and the country’s economy.

Welcoming this announcement, Dr Markus Borner from the Frankfurt Zoological Society said “We thank President Kikwete and the Tanzanian Government for recognising the importance of the Serengeti ecosystem and to balance development with conservation. We urge the international community and the donor agencies to consider providing support for the construction of a southern alignment, which will avoid Serengeti National Park.”

Alternative route

“This is a very welcome step in the right direction,” said Thomas Tennhardt, Vice President of NABU (the German BirdLife Partner). “We congratulate the Tanzanian Government and encourage them to consider the road to the South to ensure a sustainable long-term solution. As well as reducing impacts on wildlife, it would also be of considerably greater benefit to local communities. Coupled with an extension to the East of the Serengeti, it would also address the Tanzanian government’s objective to connect isolated communities to commercial centres and road networks”.

Dr Tim Stowe for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (BirdLife in the UK) added: “We are delighted the Tanzanian Government has decided to not build the road. We now encourage the Government to undertake a Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment of the Northern transport corridor route to assess alternatives which are likely to benefit the livelihoods of more communities without destroying the integrity of other important sites like Lake Natron.”

“By taking this bold decision to protect the Serengeti, the government of Tanzania has once again demonstrated its commitment to sustainable management of the country’s abundant biodiversity resources for the good of current and future generations of Tanzanians. Last year, the country received a top award for best practice in management of Lake Natron,” said Victoria Ferdinand, the Acting CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania. “The practice on the ground must adhere to this decision with TANAPA effectively controlling the traffic allowed into the Park”.

Concerns remain

“The announcement at the World Heritage Committee session is a great advance and we warmly welcome the Tanzanian Government’s far-sighted decision,” said Dr Julius Arinaitwe, Director of the BirdLife International African Partnership Secretariat. “However, there are still serious concerns about traffic through the park after upgrade of the roads either side, which will need to be fully examined as the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment for the North route is finalised.”

The proposed road would have been used by 800 vehicles a day by 2015 (one every two minutes) and 3,000 a day by 2035 (one every 30 seconds). Collisions between people and wildlife would have been inevitable. The road would have acted as a barrier to migrating herds of wildebeest, and the follow-on effects on predators, including one of the world’s most important lion populations, would have been catastrophic.

No asphalt in the park

The decision means that tracks through the Northern Serengeti will continue to be managed by the park authority TANAPA. Asphalt roads will not reach the border of the park but will end at Mugumu to the west (12 km from the border) and Loliondo to the east (57.6 km from the border), leaving fragile habitat on both sides of the park without asphalt roads.

Earlier this year, Federal Minister for Development Dirk Niebel announced that Germany would be willing to finance a study on alternative ways of connecting areas bordering the Serengeti in the north to the existing road network, without crossing the Serengeti. In addition, Niebel reaffirmed willingness jointly to finance an international feasibility study for an alternative southern bypass for the national park.

BirdLife Partnership welcomes Serengeti road decision: here.

The proposed construction of a highway through the Serengeti National Park has run into further trouble with the East African Court of Justice: here.

The East African Court of Justice (EACJ) will on March 15 decide whether the permanent injunction its lower division handed the government and effectively blocked the latter’s attempt to construct a highway through the Serengeti National Park should stand: here.

FRANKFURT Zoological Society (FZS) has commended the government of Tanzania for its commitment to conserve Serengeti National Park, which is one of the world’s heritage sites: here.

UPDATE Serengeti June 2012: here.

What does the Serengeti Highway decision mean for Lake Natron? Here.

Soda ash project in Lake Natron, Arusha Region, could face further delays to take off owing to lack of required clearance from environmental authorities: here.

10/11/2011 No soda ash mining at Lake Natron without addressing environmental concerns, affirms Tanzania’s Director of Environment: here.

Rapid Response team to prevent elephant – human conflict in Tanzania: here.

Lion, Cheetah, Grevy’s Zebra and Hyenas all killed on new road in Northern Kenya: here.

10 thoughts on “Tanzania Serengeti conservation victory

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  2. http://allafrica.com/stories/201201230774.html

    Tanzania: Wetlands Are Habitat for Common Bishop Birds

    Anne Outwater

    22 January 2012

    The monitoring project run by the Animal Demography Unit at the University of Cape Town has been urging me to send in another report. I have wanted to send an update, but I’ve been waiting for the outcome of the current breeding efforts of a pair of Zanzibar Red Bishop Birds.

    Several species of birds have build nests in the constructed wetland (about three meters by one meter) that treats the sewage of three houses in Mikocheni. The constructed wetland uses matete (Phragmeites reeds), which was once the most common plant in the former Msasani wetland (now 99% disappeared to make room for big houses, apartments, and shops).

    Range changes in birds are usually due to land-use changes which may be induced by human beings or by climate change. If birds in general, and weavers in particular, are able to adapt to land or habitat changes depends on the specificity of their needs and demographic parameters. African Golden Weavers (Kwera tumbodahabu) Spectacled Weavers (Kwera miwani), and Zanzibar Red Bishop Birds (Kweche) all tried to build their nests in the constructed wetland.

    In the last few months Spectacled Weavers have built six nests elsewhere the garden, but I am not sure they are productive. The Blackheaded Weaver started to build a nest in a nearby mpingo tree but quit. The only birds now nesting in the constructed wetland are Zanzibar Red Bishops (Euplectes nigroventris). They are the smallest of the world’s 117 species of weaver birds and found only in Kenya, Mozambique and Tanzania.

    Bishop Birds had not been seen for some months in the garden and then suddenly a male was back at the constructed wetland building nests in late October. He built several. I took a photo on 19 November of a female inspecting one of the nests that was rejected. She was subsequently proved correct when the reeds it was tied to were pushed down during the massive rains in late December; the nest ended upside down. A nest was finally accepted a few weeks later. This nest survived the heavy rains.

    In 22 December two eggs were in the nest. On 25 December I have a photo of the female at the nest, facing in for a long time. She was probably watching the chicks hatching, as soon afterwards I found pieces of light blue eggshell nearby. She had taken them out of the nest and threw them away. The next photos I have were taken on January 7th, the day that the last fledgling left the nest. It was just luck. I was standing near the wetlands watching the nest for action.

    Until they moved I did not know that one of the fledglings and the mother were outside the nest in the reeds near me. I went to get my camera and they were still there when I returned. For two successive seasons the Zanzibar Red Bishop birds have successfully bred in the constructed wetlands. I can now say with a bit of confidence that this small constructed wetland is adequate habitat for one pair of Bishop Birds to annually raise young to adulthood.

    They may be able to raise two broods per year in the constructed wetland. The first group fledged in March 2011 and the second in January 2012. While the young ones on the second group were growing, a male was already building another nest about two feet away on some strong young reeds rising tall with new growth. The male is so astoundingly bright I thought he was doing it as a way to detract attention from the mother feeding the young. Perhaps it was for that reason.

    And if so, it may have worked since the fledglings matured safely. A very few days later this new nest had a female sitting in it. If she were the mother of the last fledglings, or a new female I cannot tell. But she is sitting snugly in the nest, facing out the entrance. She is sitting in there more hours every day; surely there are eggs underneath her. If all goes well, those eggs will hatch after about two weeks and the chicks will fledge a couple of weeks later, in February.


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