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Tanzania Reconsiders Plans for Serengeti Highway
More than a year ago the Tanzania government announced plans to build a commercial highway through Serengeti National Park. The highway would be constructed to link the area around Lake Victoria with eastern Tanzania. While the purpose of the highway is to accommodate for the rapid trade growth, critics argue that the road will destroy a major tourist attraction leaving many without jobs and income. Tanzania's government faced mounting opposition from those warning that the highway through the Serengeti would destroy the annual wildebeest migration and threaten to destroy the park's ecosystem as a whole. In our recent blog, Stop the Serengeti Highway, we addressed the concerns surrounding this proposed commercial road.
On June 22 Tanzania announced that plans to build a commercial highway across the Serengeti have been cancelled. Tanzania's Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism stated in a letter to the UN World Heritage Center that "the proposed road will not dissect the Serengeti National Park and therefore will not affect the migration and conservation values of the Property." It also says that "the 53km section traversing Serengeti National Park will remain gravel road…" The gravel road inside the park will be maintained and used mainly for national park administrative and tourism purposes. A commercial highway will still be built in the area to accommodate the increasing economic development needs, though the road will not go through the Serengeti National Park as formerly planned. You can read the letter here. While many consider this a victory, conservationists say the threat has not disappeared. According to Serengeti Watch, a non profit organization committed to preserving the Serengeti ecosystem, "a battle has been won, but the struggle to save the Serengeti goes on."
As a result of the continued road plans, the traffic through the park will probably rise significantly. Roads will still be built very close to the park. The gravel road across the Serengeti will only be a few kilometers away from a major tarmac highway meeting at its borders. Environmentalists are urging the government to have the road completely avoid the park. Additionally, skeptics are also concerned that the change of plans is simply a ploy to relieve pressure on the Tanzania government, which could then revert to the original plans. In a National Geographic Article, Dr. Paula Kahumbu, a Kenyan conservationist, comments that "there is no promise not to go ahead with preexisting plans once the heat is off. It's happened before."
To stay up to date on the situation and find out how you can help, visit Serengeti Watch. To see the incredible natural phenomenon of the great migration at Serengeti national Park start planning your Tanzania Safari now! Our unique eco lodge and camping options are an ideal way to experience the incredible wildlife. Learn more about our ecotourism initiatives in Tanzania here. To request a free quote please fill out our custom tours form online or give us a call at (866) 577-2462.