It’s the world’s greatest migration spectacle: nearly two million wildebeest and zebra, accompanied by gazelles and packs of predators charging across East Africa.
Every April, at the end of the wet season, the animals flee north from the Tanzanian Serengeti, to the only permanent river in the region, the Kenyan Mara, and the wetter feeding grounds. They drive a rare ecosystem by eating huge quantities of plant life, recycling nutrients through dung and urine, and trampling seeds across the landscape.
But after 2012, this amazing sight could vanish, with the building of a major commercial highway that will bisect the path of this great migration.
Alarmed by the greatest threat in Serengeti’s history, twenty-seven conservation experts from around the world, headed by Professor Andrew Dobson of Princeton University, have put their names to a two-page article in the journal Nature, condemning the plan.
Barring herds from their traditional dry-season feeding grounds would devastate prey species and the predators that depend on them, the scientists argue. The plan could also lead to the collapse of the entire Serengeti ecosystem, possibly resulting in huge releases of carbon into the atmosphere.
“The proposed road could lead to the collapse of the largest remaining migratory system on Earth – a system that drives Tanzania’s tourism trade and supports thousands of people,” the authors state. “Such a collapse would be exceedingly regrettable for a country that has consistently been a world leader in conservation.”
The Nature authors are adding their voices to over 266 scientists and environmentalists worldwide who are dismayed at plans by the Tanzanian government to destroy part of the pristine wilderness that is the Serengeti.
The scientists are also proposing an alternative to the planned 480-kilometer road linking Lake Victoria to eastern Tanzania. “There’s a much better alternative that serves more people, that has a win-win-win of maintaining one of the biggest wildlife sights in the world and one of the biggest carbon sinks,” Dobson said. He suggested that the government use an alternative route to the south of the park.
In yet another short-sighted attempt to solve a problem, the Tanzanian government declares this disastrous highway through the Serengeti will bring essential economic development to the region. In the face of all the opposition, they are determined to bring destruction to the Serengeti.
If you feel strongly about this, click here to sign a Care 2 petition protesting this outrageous decision.
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