US warns Tanzania over impact of Serengeti road

Continuing the conversation on the proposed road through the Serengeti, the US has cautioned Tanzania over its plan:

The Obama administration said Wednesday it has raised concerns with Tanzania’s government about the impact of its plan to build a road through the Serengeti wildlife reserve, which environmentalists say could affect the famed wildebeest migration and threaten endangered species.

The top U.S. diplomat for Africa, Johnnie Carson, said he brought the matter up in meetings with top Tanzanian officials in late April and that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton could revisit the topic when she visits the country this month. Clinton is expected in Tanzania next week as part of a three-nation African tour focused on trade and development that will also include Zambia and Ethiopia.

“We are fully aware of the concerns that have been raised in this country and in other countries about the environmental impact that the trans-Serengeti road will have on the very large, spectacular and almost unique migration of animals from the Serengeti up to the game parks in Kenya,” said Carson, the assistant secretary of state for African affairs.

I’ve never been one to disagree with Johnnie Carson.

When I first heard about this highway, I was under the impression that it would be a paved road through the Serengeti. It turns out it will be dirt, but that is only a small relief. The road still appears unnecessary. For instance, they say it it to connect the west of the country with the economic activity of the Kilimanjaro region, but take a look at this map. It’s actually a relatively small area that will be connected – an area that largely depends upon the fishing on Lake Victoria anyway.

Of course, I’m not expert in the economic layout of Tanzania. But I do know that nothing is worth losing the Serengeti.

Update: A study published in February shows the huge impact this road can have.

6 Responses

  1. Lot’s of things are worth losing it.

  2. Wildebeest can’t cross roads?

  3. Roads come with invasive plant species, transportation of disease, and increased poaching. They also do discourage animals from crossing, and will probably invite further development. That will be fine for everyone’s wallets, but the Serengeti is far more important.

  4. Far more important than the elimination of some poverty? Important in what way exactly?

  5. Poverty can be alleviated in other ways. There are proposals to build alternative roadways that circumvent the entire area. They obviously won’t be as efficient, but the will stimulate economic activity.

    The Serengeti is one of the most unique places in the world. It accounts for some of the biggest migrations anywhere, and it constitutes a major reason for all the tourism Tanzania sees. After all, when you see a video of quintessential Africa, you’re probably seeing the Serengeti.

  6. I’m sure they will do a cost/benefit before the thing goes forward.

    Ain’t gonna see it from my house though.

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