The government of Tanzania has approved a major commercial highway across Serengeti National Park. The northern Serengeti – located near the Kenya border – is the most remote and pristine area in the Park’s entire ecosystem. "The road will cause an environmental disaster," said 27 biodiversity experts this week in the science journal Nature. The planned road slashes across Serengeti's most important annual migratory route taken by 1.3 million wildebeest – as well as important elephant and zebra migration areas – threatening the last great mass movements of animals on Earth.
The road’s expected 416 large trucks a day would physically block the migration, introduce invasive species, and lead to greater poaching – ultimately killing the migration altogether. Further there will be fragmentation of habitat, alteration of water and soil systems, and increased introduction of animal disease. When the wildebeest migration is blocked, more grass fires are expected, further diminishing the quality of grazing, and likely to make the ecosystem a source of atmospheric CO2.
The northern part of the Serengeti is untouched and should remain so. A safer alternative route proposed by local conservationist can bypass Serengeti altogether to the South and provide more economic benefit for the people of Tanzania. This route can preserve Tanzania’s greatest tourism asset and spare the devastation of Serengeti – a priceless World Heritage Site. With the help of the world community in support of local demands, Tanzania can find a way to preserve its inheritance, protect for all posterity a healthy and intact Serengeti ecosystem, while bringing advancement to its people.
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The wildebeest photo was taken on May 31, 2010. Not far from this spot there are survey ribbons hanging on trees, marking the road's route. (Courtesy: Stop the Serengeti Highway)
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