Highway will undermine Serengeti ecosystem

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 27 August 2010

The word “Siringitu” in Swahili means “the place where the land moves on forever.” The Serengeti’s 5,700 square miles span many thriving ecosystems and play host to one of the mightiest migrations of land mammals on the planet.

Migration at the Mara River

Wildebeest, zebras, lions, leopards, wild dogs, elephants, rhinos, and cheetahs roam this section of central Africa. The charismatic wildlife and vast scenery attract more than 90,000 tourists to the Serengeti each year. Still, through this land that seemingly moves on forever, the Tanzanian government wants to build a highway, an asphalt barrier that would divide the wilderness.

“The Serengeti is the site of one of the last great ungulate migrations left on Earth, the preeminent symbol of wild nature for millions of visitors and TV viewers, and a hugely important source of income for the people of Tanzania through ecotourism,” said Dr. James Deutsch, Executive Director of WCS-Africa. “To threaten this natural marvel with a road would be a tragedy. We implore the Tanzanian government—known around the world for its commitment to conservation—to reconsider this proposal and explore other options.”

The proposed Arusha-Musoma highway would link the districts of Serengeti and Loliondo with the national road system. This would connect the Tanzanian coast and the hinterland, a move that would benefit the country’s agricultural markets. The government plans to begin highway construction in 2012.

If built, the road would bisect the northern area of Serengeti National Park. For the park’s wildebeest population, the roadway would limit access to the Mara River, a critical water source during the dry season. Continue reading