I’ve mentioned the plans by the Tanzanian government to create a highway across the Serengeti on more than one occasion. Back in July, the controversial project was proposed as a way of increasing trade and helping stimulate economic growth, but at the possible expense of the delicate ecosystem that exists on the African plains. Some feared that the increased traffic would also disrupt the annual Great Migration, which sees millions of animals passing directly through the region.
Now, 290 scientists from 32 different countries have signed a petition urging Tanzania to find an alternate route around the Serengeti National Park, rather than going straight through it, to help preserve the spectacular wildlife that is found there. The scientists believe that the construction of the road “would result in severe, negative, irreversible impacts, with little mitigation possible.” They even go so far as to say “The proposed road cuts through a critical wilderness area that is essential to the migration. The type of road surface matters little. The migration itself could easily collapse, with a devastating effect on all wildlife, the grasslands, and the entire ecosystem.”
The petition included a survey of the scientists asking them their thoughts on the impact of the road on the Serengeti Ecosystem. 85% of those surveyed felt that it was either inevitable or extremely likely that the migration would be disrupted and a stunning 98% answered the same way when asked if the road would have an impact on mortality rates.
The Save The Serengeti organization continues to work with these scientists, as well as conservation organizations and the travel industry to try to resolve these issues, but at the moment the Tanzanian government seems intent on moving ahead with the plan.
It seems we’re on the verge of watching one of the planet’s great natural wonders be destroyed and disrupted right before our eyes. Having traveled the world, I’m often asked about my favorite place, and I invariably answer that it is the Serengeti. This news makes me very sad.
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