Should there be Highway across the Serengeti?
By Jack George
Over the past couple of weeks, those of you who post on our Facebook page have wanted to discuss the issue of the Serengeti highway. Although this issue is a hot topic on Facebook and Twitter, the world news has yet failed to put this issue in the media spotlight:
Pia posted on the WHYS Facebook page:
'The highway will ruin one of the most magnificent sites on earth! This is an urgent environmental issue. I cant understand why the BBC is ignoring it.'
I looked into various blogs and anti-highway web sites and then found that in an effort to join local and business communities, the Tanzanian government has approved plans to build a commercial highway from Lake Victoria to Eastern Tanzania, which would consequently cut through the Serengeti National Park.
Many bloggers are saying that this highway would cut through the migration paths of millions of animals, affecting the ecosystem in The Serengeti. Another concern is that these detrimental effects to the flora and fauna would then cause a decline in the tourism industry, affecting Tanzania's economy.
The highway will not only affect Tanzanians.
Dnapes, a Kenyan blogger posts:
Although this highway will be of considerable economic importance to Tanzania and it will improve their human migration, the opportunity cost however to wildlife and to us in Kenya will be ruinous. The effect on our tourism would be colossal if the migration was slightly tainted or even destroyed.
Ginny posted on Facebook:
It makes no sense to disrupt the incredible flow of wildlife, that has such need of the present path, the serengeti highway now looks to interrupt.
But now that the highway has been approved, does this mean that it will definitely have detrimental effects on the ecosystem in The Serengeti?
The Frankfurt Zoological Society has proposed an alternative route, which would bypass the Serengeti National Park, avoiding the disruption of migration paths and also serving several times the number of Tanzanians.
'The southern highway would certainly lift the region economically as trucks will be able to travel, not just to Arusha, but also directly to Dodoma. It would cost much less too, as they would just need to repair and widen existing roads.'
It seems that the challenge now is for the Frankfurt Zoological Society to prove to the Tanzanian government that its proposals are economically and environmentally viable.
Is an alternative route feasible? Would the highway be as detrimental to the Serengeti as is made out by bloggers and Facebook users? Or is the highway just part of a political gambit?