word “Siringitu” in Swahili means “the place where the land moves on forever.”
The Serengeti’s 5,700 square miles span many thriving ecosystems and play host to one of the mightiest migrations of land mammals on the planet.
zebras, lions, leopards, wild dogs, elephants, rhinos, and cheetahs roam this
section of central Africa. The charismatic wildlife and vast scenery attract more
than 90,000 tourists to the Serengeti each year. Still, through this land that seemingly
moves on forever, the Tanzanian government wants to build a highway, an
asphalt barrier that would divide the wilderness.
Serengeti is the site of one of the last great ungulate migrations left on
Earth, the preeminent symbol of wild nature for millions of visitors and TV
viewers, and a hugely important source of income for the people of Tanzania
through ecotourism,” said Dr. James Deutsch, Executive Director of WCS-Africa. “To threaten this natural marvel with a road would be a tragedy. We
implore the Tanzanian government—known around the world for its commitment to
conservation—to reconsider this proposal and explore other options.”
The proposed Arusha-Musoma highway would link the districts of Serengeti and Loliondo with the
national road system. This would connect the Tanzanian coast and the
hinterland, a move that would benefit the country’s agricultural markets. The
government plans to begin highway construction in 2012.
built, the road would bisect the northern area of Serengeti
National Park. For the park’s wildebeest population, the roadway would limit
access to the Mara River, a critical water source during the dry season.
highway might also keep the migration from Kenya’s Masaai Mara National
Reserve, the country's most popular tourism destination.
“A commercial road would not only result
in wildlife collisions and human injuries, but would serve to fragment the
landscape and undermine the ecosystem in a variety of ways,” said Prof. Jonathan
Baillie, ZSL’s director of conservation, “To diminish this natural wonder would
be a terrible loss for Tanzania and all future generations.”
the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the Frankfurt Zoological Society, and
other organizations hope the Tanzanian government will consider alternative
routes, which could satisfy Tanzania’s transportation needs without disrupting
one of the Earth’s top natural wonders. ZSL and WCS are partners in the
long-term monitoring and conservation of Serengeti’s cheetahs.
“We recognize that there is an obvious
need for infrastructure development in Tanzania,” said Markus Borner, Africa
Program Director for the Frankfurt Zoological Society, which has worked in the
Serengeti since the 1950s. “A far better option than the current proposal is
placing a road to the south of the park. Such a road would be both cheaper to
construct and would serve a much larger number of people without interrupting
the migration and jeopardizing the iconic status of the Serengeti National