President of Tanzania states that the northern route through the Serengeti will be built

by Jan 30, 2011Conservation Threats, Serengeti

Despite world protest and a recent offer from the World Bank, Jakaya Kikwete, President of Tanzania, states that the northern route through the Serengeti will be built.

For many months we’ve been asking lending institutions and donor governments to fund an alternative, southern route. To date, we have more than 25,000 signatures on our “Find and Fund an Alternative to the Serengeti Highway” petition. We know our collective voice has been heard.

Finally, a few days ago, we were heartened to learn that the World Bank will offer the funding.

Astonishingly, however, President Kikwete just told a representative of the World Bank that his government would indeed be going ahead with the northern route. In a press statement that could only be described as doublespeak, he affirmed that the northern route would be built (though he claims it’s not a highway).

Of course, a commercial highway it is. Paving and fencing will inevitably follow, as will towns, bean and wheat fields, wildlife collisions, and increased poaching. A section of the Park will be excised, fragmenting the ecosystem into two parts. The impact is inevitable, and once gone, the Serengeti will be gone forever.

Scientists have spoken clearly and with one voice. Conservation organizations and the UNESCO World Heritage Committee have made their statements of protest. For our part, we will continue to build the case on how this Serengeti highway will affect Tanzania’s economy.

Not fully appreciated yet is the devastation to the economy of Tanzania this project will wreak. Already there is talk of a boycott against travel to Tanzania. We do not want this to happen, so we must make our case as convincingly as we can.

Please stay with us. We’ll be offering opportunities for you to get involved and make your voice heard.

See our survey and report on economic impacts.