#SerengetiWatch – a news update


With the start of a new school year in Tanzania, we’re continuing our support of conservation education programs in communities around the Serengeti. Busloads of students will be traveling to the Serengeti for their first ever visit. Students earn their trips by planting trees at their homes, schools, and around the community.

Provide clean water to school children

With our partner, Serengeti Preservation Foundation, we’re enhancing our education program by providing water filters for schools. Students don’t have access to healthy drinking water at school, and these ceramic filters provide pure, sanitary water for them. We plan to donate 40 filters to 8 schools this year. The cost to purchase and transport each filter is $80.


New TV Series on Serengeti

There is a new six-part film series on the Serengeti. It’s already being aired in the UK on BBC. It will come to the Discovery Channel in the U.S. on August 4 at 8:00 PM ET/PT. In the U.S. it will be narrated by Oscar-winning Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o.

We welcome new productions that show the wonders of the Serengeti. But even more importantly, these need to be widely viewed by people in East Africa as a way to foster pride in their own natural heritage. We’ve appealed to the producers to make this production available in East Africa and to help with its distribution.

Botswana and the fragility of conservation

A recent article in theWashington Post was titled, ‘I hate elephants.’ Behind the backlash against Botswana’s giants. It relates how human-wildlife conflict is escalating, causing destruction of local farm crops, and even lives. It’s triggered the resumption of elephant hunting and perhaps the culling of elephant herds. (Above photo: Luke Hunter/Panthera)

But even more serious is the threat of fencing! The alarm was recently sounded by Dr. Steven Osofsky at Cornell University, in an article entitled A plea to Botswana: Please rethink a “Not Enough Fences” approach.

Dr. Osofsky developed protocols to reduce the need for fencing, used to prevent disease transmission between wild and domestic animals. But now, he says, the government of Botswana is proposing more fencing, a disastrous policy for wildlife. He points out that fencing has been used in Botswana in the past, with catastrophic results:

"Between 1978 and 2003, populations of wildebeest and red hartebeest in Botswana’s Kalahari region declined by an order of magnitude. Wildebeest declined from 315,000 to 16,000, and hartebeest from 293,000 to 45,000, as a result of fragmentation of their range by fences. And as the antelopes decline, so do lions and other carnivores."

The new threats in Botswana are the result of a government led by PresidentMokgweetsi Masisi, who has veered away from his predecessor’s commitment to conservation.

A change in the political order can change everything.

Tanzania changing as well

What Botswana shows, so relevant for the Serengeti ecosystem, is that politics is central in protecting Africa’s last remaining wilderness. The score card for Tanzania is mixed. See this article about the Selous Reserve, which will be changed forever by a new hydroelectric dam.

On the other hand, the president of Tanzania has just commissioned a new national Park, Burigi-Chato, near Lake Victoria. It’s been upgraded from a reserve, and will hopefully be the first in a series of upgrades for other reserves.

Serengeti Watch is a project of Earth Island Institute.

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