#Serengeti – What lies ahead and what we’re doing about it.

SERENGETI WATCH – The Now and The Future

The Serengeti faces big challenges in 2018
Dear Serengeti Supporter

Below are three critical issues facing the Serengeti ecosystem.

  • The Mara River
  • The Serengeti Highway
  • Communities Around the Serengeti

We will need the support of concerned people like you if we are to keep the Serengeti alive and well. Please help.

We have a lot to do!

Enyapuiyapui Swamp. Source of the Mara River. photo No Water No Life

Saving the Mara River is saving the Serengeti itself.

The river is a slender thread that holds the entire ecosystem together. Without it, the migration will collapse. And it would be a matter of weeks or months, not years!

Photos: Wildebeest approach the river for a crossing.

Enyapuiyapui Swamp in the Kenya highlands, source of the Mara River.

The Mara River is supplied by water from the Mau Forest in the highlands of central Kenya. But the forest is steadily being eroded through deforestation, agriculture, and dams. This has already reduced the flow of the river as it makes its way to the Masai Mara Reserve.

Then last year experts sounded another alarm, a series of dams downstream from the Mau Forest they say would dry up the Mara River during a draught and "kill the Serengeti."

We can see what’s happening right now in Cape Town, South Africa, which may well be the first major city in the world to run out of water. The reasons – severe draught, population increase, and a change in overall weather patterns due to climate change. These same factors are operating on the Mara River Basin. Kenya’s population growth is high. The current population of about 50 million is expected to 95 million by 2050 and 140 million by the end of the century.

For more on the Mara River Basin, see this article by No Water No Life. Learn more on proposed dams here.

What we’re doing

Last year we alerted the East African Wildlife Society (EAWLS) in Kenya and No Water No Life in the US, and we’re partnering with them to monitor developments and do advocacy work in Kenya. This month (February 2018) EAWLS is convening a meeting of experts and stakeholders in Nairobi. The solution to the problem lies in cooperation between Kenya and Tanzania, which share this ecosystem. As with the Serengeti highway, it ultimately falls under the protocols and legal apparatus of the East African Community.

In the meantime we will monitor this closely and work with our partners to find a lasting solution. The big question is: Given a finite water supply, huge population growth, and climate change, can there actually be a long-term, win-win solution that gives water to people but keeps the Mara River running for wildlife? What might that be? And who decides?

Photos copyright: Alison Jones, for No Water No Life


This threat never really left and is making a resurgence.

The Tanzanian government recently announced that work on a road from Arusha to Musoma, on Lake Victoria, had been started by a Chinese construction company. Such a route would necessarily take it through the Serengeti.

The map we’ve prepared shows what highways have been proposed and approved.

So far, the Tanzanian government has not re-stated its intention to leave the section through the Serengeti untouched. But it’s obvious that roads on either side of park pose a grave threat as they may eventually be connected. Better, alternate southern routes (two versions) are shown in purple.

What we’re doing

We are currently monitoring this on the ground. Should it become apparent that the section through the Serengeti will be paved, or even upgraded, we will again support legal action against it. Internationally, we are looking into ways to dissuade China from paving a road through the park.

Map: Amy Haak, Serengeti Watch


Human welfare and the Serengeti ecosystem are inextricably linked.

Communities around the Serengeti are growing at a very high rate. Incursions into the Serengeti National Park and Masai Mara Reserve are increasing.

At the current pace, human population in East Africa will double by mid-century. How can human welfare progress? How can the ecosystem stand such a tsunami of population growth? It will only fuel more roads, dams, and land degradation. People and wildlife will suffer.

What we are doing

Our partner in Tanzania, the Serengeti Preservation Foundation, is working in communities to find solutions. School and radio programs are opening discussion and educating a new generation of leaders. We are also working to introduce health and family planning services. It is an integrated approach called PHE, Population, Health, and Environment. If we are to have any impact, women will have a key role to play.

Programs are up and running.

We need your support!

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