New highway would cut the Serengeti in half
Road could block the wildebeest migration and provide easy access to poachers.
Thu, Jun 10 2010 at 5:19 AM
TWO MIGRATIONS: Making human migration easier could halt the wildlife migrations that make the Serengeti ecosystem possible. (Photo: geoftheref/Flickr)
The government of Tanzania has given the go-ahead for a new highway to be built through the heart of the Serengeti, according to Wildlife Extra News. Aside from threatening wildlife with the presence of high-speed traffic and giving easy access to poachers, the road would potentially block the migration route of the wildebeest.
The wildebeest migration into the Masai Mara has been the driving theme of countless wildlife documentaries. It is, of course, essential to the survival of the vast wildebeest herds, which must follow the rains to locate suitable grazing land.
If the new highway disrupts the migration, hundreds of thousands of wildebeest would likely die. Predators that rely on the large herds for sustenance, such as all of Africa's big cats, would likely crash in a similar manner.
The rationale behind building the highway is that it would link the northwestern side of the country with the tourism hub of Arusha and beyond, bringing in more tourism and making human migration through the region more swift. Critics are keen to point out that the money would only be temporary if the road eliminates the wildlife.
In fact, even if a single vehicle never used the highway, the construction alone — the noise, pollution, and barrier to migration — could cause permanent damage to the environment.
The highway would also have dire consequences to local communities that may support the project because of its promise to ease transportation in the region and bring in tourists. In reality, the road would likely only serve to minimize local control over the flow of tourism and traffic.
It's also important to note that if tourists have easier access to the wildlife, so will poachers. Currently the best protection the park offers wildlife comes from its relative inaccessibility. Animals will have nowhere to hide if the new highway is built.
If you would like to protest the proposed highway, Change.org currently hosts an online petition that you can sign, print and promote.
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