Activism: alternatives to the Serengeti road
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Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) in Tanzania. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
The NGO Serengeti Watch has released a petition urging the Tanzanian government to cancel plans to build a road through the northern portion of Serengeti National Park, which scientists say will hugely impact the world’s largest migration of wildlife, and instead take up offers from the German government and the World Bank to fund an alternative route. According to Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete the road across the Serengeti is necessary to alleviate poverty in the region. However, the German government has offered to build communities local roads to provide greater access while safeguarding the Serengeti ecosystem.
According to the organization: “The government of Tanzania has approved a major commercial route across the Serengeti National Park, in the direct path of the greatest land migration on earth. Such a highway would destroy the integrity of a priceless World Heritage that has been protected by the people of Tanzania since the birth of their country. The Tanzanian government has a responsibility to work for development and welfare of its people. But in doing so, it does not need to sacrifice its most precious natural area, its income from tourism, or its heritage of conservation.”
Serengeti Watch’s petition: Save the Serengeti : Choose an Alternate Route & Local Development.
For more information on the proposed road in the Serengeti:
(03/16/2011) Government plans to build a road through Serengeti National Park came up against more opposition this week as the Tanzanian Association of Tour Operators (Tato) came out against the project, reports The Citizen. Tato, described as powerful local lobby group by the Tanzanian media, stated that the road would hurt tourism and urged the government to select a proposed alternative route that would by-pass the park. Tato’s opposition may signal a shift to more local criticism of the road as opposition against the project has come mostly from international environmentalists, scientists, and governments.
(02/23/2011) On March 19th the conservation organization, Serengeti Watch, is planning the world’s first International Serengeti Day to celebrate one of the world’s most treasured wildlife ecosystems. But the day also has another goal: bring attention to a Tanzanian government plan to build a road that would essentially cut the ecosystem, threatening the world’s largest mammal migration. “The proposed road will be a major commercial route that cuts across a narrow stretch of the Park near the border with Kenya. It goes through a wilderness zone critical to the annual migration of 1.3 million wildebeest and 0.7 million zebras, antelope, and other wildlife. This will involve extracting a strip of land from the Park itself, resulting in both the fragmentation of the ecosystem and the removal of the Serengeti National Park from the list of UN World Heritage Sites,” said David Blanton, co-founder of Serengeti Watch, in an interview with mongabay.com.
(02/10/2011) Tanzania’s President, Jakaya Kikwete, today gave promises that his proposed road project, which will bisect the Serengeti plains, would not hurt one of the world’s most famed parks and one of its last great land migrations. “The Serengeti is a jewel of our nation as well as for the international community. […] We will do nothing to hurt the Serengeti and we would like the international community to know this,” Kikwete said in a statement reported by the AFP. However, a government environment impact study, leaked to the conservation organization Serengeti Watch, paints a very different picture of how the road will damage the Serengeti. The report includes warnings that the road will ‘limit’ the migration of the plains’ 1.5 million wildebeest and 500,000 other herbivores including zebra.