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The Serengeti ecosystem extends from #Tanzania to #Kenya and includes areas within and without the Serengeti National Park and #MasaiMara Reserve. The area along the Kenya-Tanzania border is particularly important.
The ecosystem is surrounded by growing human population. Dots in blue on the Tanzanian side represent settlements. Pink and green areas on the Kenya side show agriculture. (ref: Harvard WorldMap) Farms and cattle grazing are putting pressure on the area.
Road development is planned to connect settlements to the west and east of the Serengeti.
Areas in light green show where wildebeest and proposed roads, shown in red, overlap throughout the year. Wildlife ranges well outside of the park boundary, so even roads built outside the park itself will have an impact on the migration.
Timing varies, but herds generally move from the Western Corridor north around July crossing a proposed road outside of the park.
In August, they continue north toward the Masai Mara Reserve. They may stay in this area for a time, however, and move back and forth as there is permanent water here.
Around November, herds return south toward the short grass plains where calving takes place. They extend outside the park into the Loliondo area, which is settled by Maasai herders.
Road development will service established gold mines on the west.
Roads will also service soda ash mining on #LakeNatron to the east. Mining was previously prohibited there as it would endanger the entire breeding population of #LesserFlamingos in East Africa. Now mining is back on the table.
Road development will also service a new international airport, allowing passengers to arrive from other countries, being co-financed by a US billionaire who owns luxury lodges in this area.
Roads outside the park are a serious threat. But the most critical piece is the section through the Serengeti National Park. The government says this will be maintained as a “gravel road.” In fact, it is currently neither a road nor gravel. It’s a seasonal dirt track as shown above. Serengeti Watch has documented the entire route with photos and GPS.With roads on either side, there will be increased traffic on this section and pressure to eventually pave it. If this is done, the impact on the migration will be devastating, as it will attract even more settlement, invasive species, human-wildlife collisions, poaching, and the fragmentation of the ecosystem.
See a survey of more than 300 scientists Serengeti Watch conducted.
Wildlife preservation is important. But human welfare and development is vital. In fact, there is an easy win-win solution, an alternate southern route that would be less costly, help more people, contribute more to development, and save the Serengeti.
Read this impressive study showing how a southern route affects the socio-economic development of Tanzania.
Two huge issues looming
All of our planet’s great challenges – climate change, population growth, human welfare, food production, water resources, wildlife protection, habitat preservation, eco-engineering, road development, governance – all converge in East Africa on the Serengeti ecosystem.
If we can’t save the Serengeti, what can we save?
Both lie ahead this coming year.
Both are existential issues for the Serengeti.
Both require our full attention.
We need your support like never before.
Serengeti Watch is a project of Earth Island Institute,
with the highest ratings on Guidestar, Charity Watch, Charity Navigator.