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.

No highway through the Serengeti

The Tanzanian government has plans to build a road through the Serengeti. And it sounds like it’s going to be pretty ugly. But the only reason I even know about this is that someone wrote a letter to the editor of my local paper.

Why can’t we leave anything alone? Why put a major highway through the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania?

Majestic animals such as elephants, wildebeests and zebras, use this region as their major means of getting around. The plains have been here for millions of years without human interference.

Why change it? These animals will be killed daily if a road is put through there. Let alone human life. I don’t believe you can run an elephant over and live to tell about it.

I don’t believe for one minute that God wants this to happen, either.

In America, we have taken most of the woodlands away from our animals, including moose and deer, and we wonder why these animals move into town. Then we end up killing the animals because they are interfering with humans.

Children often pay the price because they are easy targets for predators. This is not fair to the animals. Please leave the Serengeti alone.

Beverly Brickett


I agree with the writer, though I’m not sure what any of this is doing in a letter to the editor of a Maine newspaper.

But she’s right in her sentiment (as for facts…well, I doubt there will be a lot of dead elephants on the side of the road). There is no good reason for destroying a place as special as the Serengeti. It seems to me the money allocated to a road project could be better spent on all that abject poverty I saw during my time in Tanzania.

But maybe I’m just crazy.