Tanzania: Environment study key to road project

by Nov 24, 2010Wildlife News

Nothing has attracted as much attention locally and internationally in recent years than the proposal to build a road through the Serengeti National Park. There have been plenty of presentations from experts and environmental activists to the government to reconsider its decision and opt for an alternative route.

The mounting outcry over the Serengeti from within and beyond just goes to show what this heritage site means to the global community. However, a most interesting development is the apparent softening of the stance of local civil society organisations on this emotive issue.

But even more interesting is their rider that though they would consider letting the project go ahead, its possible impact on wildlife in the area must be thoroughly studied.

Indeed, the planned tarmac road link between Arusha and Musoma is crucial for the opening up of the two regions, as well as monitoring the flow of tourists into the Senapa. But if that is going to interfere with the natural migratory routes of the wild animals, it should never be sanctioned.

The greatest attraction to the park, besides the beautiful scenery and abundance of wildlife, is the annual wildebeest migration that is one of the most spectacular natural occurrences, and major tourist attraction.

There are two competing interests here. The road project is very popular because of its potential economic benefits to the locals, but this cannot erase the global significance of this particular site.

Experts have expressed fears that the construction of a tarmac road through the Senapa could have devastating consequences for an area famous not only for the annual migration of millions of wildebeest, but which also teems with zebras and other animals roaming between the Serengeti and the Maasai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya.

Although, the government argues that the 53 kilometres of the planned highway within the park will not be tarmarked, it’s obvious that increased motor vehicle traffic will alter the ecosystem.

There is a need, therefore, for an independent and comprehensive environmental assessment study to ensure the protection of this unique heritage for posterity.