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Saturday, June 12, 2010

sign the petition! No highway across the Serengeti!

Red line = proposed road through migration routes, green line = proposed alternate route.
From the "STOP THE SERENGETI HIGHWAY" Facebook page


From eturbo news:
By WOLFGANG H. THOME

Information received from Arusha indicates that the government has at last made a decision as to the exact route of the new proposed road from Arusha to Musoma, bringing bad news to conservation activists, who tried to prevent the new highway to cut right through the traditional migration routes in the Serengeti National Park.

For those acquainted with the geography of Tanzania, the new road link, much in demand, by the way, from the business community and local communities, the new road will start at Mto Wa Mbu – located on the foot of the Manyara escarpment, and then move through along Engaruka, pass Lake Natron, Loliondo, and the Serengeti, before reaching Musoma.

Proponents of the road reportedly considered the impact of the main highway leading through Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda, where a tarmac road runs through the park towards Kasese, but migration there is limited to smaller numbers of animals crossing the road, while the new highway cutting through the Serengeti will, at certain times of the year, see the big herds march across the area by the tens of thousands, while a traditional elephant migration route is also being divided by the new highway.

Construction is due to start in early 2012 after a full feasibility study has been completed by the end of this year and further anticipated impacts have been dealt with. It could not be established from TANAPA what made them accept the routing they fought against for so long, and if political instructions came down on them like the proverbial ton of bricks, but the unusual silence of regular sources within and close to TANAPA speaks volumes for itself.

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from Coastweek.com
by KASMANI SHAZAAD
Tanzania Request Alternative Route For Highway Through Serengeti National Park

We are all sensitized to the human wildlife impact and its challenges being faced everyday in our country. Every year we loose hundreds of our precious wildlife to drought, disease, economic growth and effects of climate change. As Kenyans, we have at least recognized the importance of our wildlife heritage and are now beginning to do something about it. The rejection of opening up trade in Ivory stockpiles, restoration of the Mau and the likes of Nairobi Green Line tree planting initiative to conserve our Nairobi National Park is a perfect example of what we accomplished this year.

But what if you found out that our Great Migration of the Masai Mara will end in 2012?

Yes! In just two short years, not twenty or fifty, only two!

How is this possible you ask?

Because of a highway.

A highway cutting right through the Serengeti National Park which will edge towards our borders next to the Masai Mara. Tanzania is at this very moment preparing a feasibility study to be completed in December this year for the construction of the new Arusha-Musoma highway by 2012. The proposed new road will start at Mto Wa Mbu which is at the base of the Manyara Escarpment, continuing along Engaruka, further passing Lake Natron , following into the Loliondo Sanctuary, and directly through the Serengeti literally splitting the park apart before reaching Musoma.

This road is smack in the middle of the great migration path which comes into Masai Mara.

Although this highway will be of considerable economic importance to Tanzania and it will improve their human migration, the opportunity cost however to wildlife and to us in Kenya will be ruinous. The effect on our tourism would be colossal if the migration was slightly tainted or even destroyed. Kenya ’s tourism within the Mara and beyond will be seriously affected as inflows of tourism dollars will be diverted towards other international destinations that have parks or beaches. Local investment and thousands of jobs in the hospitality, tourism and corresponding industries will be lost.

The Masai Mara and Serengeti are unquestionably the most profiled parks on this continent and only because of the largest animal migration on our planet. Thousands of Wildebeest, Zebras and other herbivores cross over from Tanzania into Kenya and return back, as they search for fresher greener pastures, to breed and to deliver new offspring. This routine which is driven by instinct and has been followed for centuries will now have a highway directly in its trail. Our Mara predators such as Lions, Cheetahs and Hyenas who have carefully timed the birth of their young to coincide with this migration and are desperately awaiting the arrival of the herbivores after a prolonged period of hunger, may be wiped out by starvation.

The new highway could support hundreds of coaches, large trucks and other vehicles traversing each day.

Imagine thousands of Wildebeest lined up on the side of this highway, all disoriented, scared and unable to cross the large tarmac into the Mara. Consequently forcing them to return into Tanzania . Imagine the wildlife massacres and human losses from the road accidents, the air pollution, noise pollution and increased levels of poaching.

As a wildlife photographer, I am appalled, and the same sentiments are being expressed by our local safari guides and operators who also predict that this mass migration will now stay confined; into just a Tanzanian wildlife spectacle.

There is already an inter-national outcry from environ-mentalists about the ecological impact and petitions are already flying all over the internet.

Are we as Kenyans going to sit back? or are we also going to voice our concerns?

I’m already trying to do my part.

We and our government have a duty to reason with our COMESA neighbours.

Tanzania , can you seek an alternative route which is outside the national park. If not, we should possibly bid farewell to the migration and say kwaheri to a world heritage site… the Masai Mara will die.

2 comments:

anneoutwater said...

The proposed road through the Serengeti is a travesty. But the only way it will be built is with international donor funds. Therefore pressure should not be just on the TZ government but on the funders. Who will fund it? The cost is calculated at almost 0.5 billion dollars. World Bank?

victorya said...

Although this highway will be of considerable economic importance to Tanzania and it will improve their human migration, the opportunity cost however to wildlife and to us in Kenya will be ruinous. The effect on our tourism would be colossal if the migration was slightly tainted or even destroyed. Kenya ’s tourism within the Mara and beyond will be seriously affected as inflows of tourism dollars Priligy will be diverted towards other international destinations that have parks or beaches. Local investment and thousands of jobs in the hospitality, tourism and corresponding industries will be lost.