Tanzania: Villagers' Request Serengeti's Removal from World Heritage List

Villagers surrounding the Serengeti National Park have called on the government to remove the park from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) World Heritage list. Speaking to The Citizen, the chairman of Ikoma Robanda Village, Mr Mrobanda Japani, said since its listing 30 years ago there is nothing significant in development those surrounding the park can show contrary to the world heritage objectives.

The call has been enhanced by the objection by Unesco and other local and international non governmental organisations to the government’s plan to construct the Serengeti highway as part of its implementation of the 2002/12 Transport Sector Improvement Programme.

The highway would be part of the 452km Natta-Mugumu-Taboro ‘B’-Loliondo-Mto wa Mbu tarmac road, and would likely become a major transit route between Rwanda, Burundi and Eastern DR Congo.

According to Unesco, when finished, the road would dissect 53 km of the northern wilderness area of the Serengeti threatening the migration path of millions of animals annually.The state of conservation of Serengeti National Park was examined at the 34th Session of the World Heritage Committee meeting in Brasilia, in July 2010, and the Committee expressed its utmost concern about a proposed highway.

“We do not see the benefit of the listing which is now being used to reject the construction of the road which many believe will bring development to the people as opposed to the Unesco listing,” he said.

Elaborating the objectives which have not been fulfilled since Serengeti was declared world heritage site, the Serengeti Development, Research and Environmental Conservation Centre (Sederec) spokesperson Mr Damian Thobias said the villages surrounding the park could have had a good infrastructure.

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