Conservation breaking news – Tanzanian president cancels UNESCO WHS application


True to his form of putting reckless exploitation before careful conservation has Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete reportedly cancelled an application filed by his own ministry of natural resources and tourism, to have the area comprising two more recently established forest national parks – Mkomazi and Udzungwa – recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site.

Clearly stung by the growing opposition around the world over Kikwete’s plans to have a highway constructed across the main migration route of the wildebeest and zebra in the Serengeti, and more recent developments in the Zanzibar Stone Town and the Stiegler’s Gorge / Selous, it seems clear that the Tanzanian president is loath to have more UNESCO World Heritage Sites to deal with when they threaten his plans for floating valuable concessions and exploration rights to the highest bidders.

Only recently did a GEF – Global Environmental Facility – sponsored project conclude which according to reports from usually reliable conservation sources helped to safeguard thousands of hectares of prime tropical mountain forests, a prospect which obviously did not please the president and prompted him to cancel the UNESCO application before kindling another raging conservation firestorm, yet by doing so achieving exactly this.

Kikwete has been accused by his political opponents to having formed close alliances with mining groups where promises of mining concessions for gold and other valuable minerals, including a hugely controversial soda ash plant at Lake Natron, were to be awarded and roads to be build to the areas ‘in consideration’ – a phrase normally used to describe less than kosher practice in politics.

His obstinate refusal to entertain an alternative route for the Serengeti highway has earned him the title ‘Serengeti Killer’ from amongst lobbyists and the conservation fraternity and his latest slap in the face of more conservation measures by directing the cancellation of the application for World Heritage Status reveals a frame of mind hell bent to make the most out of his final five year term as president, even if it means to trample the principles and ideals of Tanzania’s founding father Mwalimu Julius Nyerere into the dust.

Sources close to UNESCO expressed their surprise over the move, calling it ‘most unusual’ that a pending application from a government ministry would be cancelled by presidential decree, suggesting the media should delve into the background of this action and unearth the true reasons behind Kikwete’s change of mind.

Tanzania is getting increasingly into the bad books of global conservation efforts, considering their official stand a year ago at the CITES meeting, when the country broke rank with her East African neighbours by applying for permission to sell ivory stocks, and when being denied attempting a blatant scheme to ‘auction’ confiscated ‘processed and semiprocessed’ ivory by the customs department, claiming such was not subject to a CITES ban on sale of ivory. Increased poaching and trafficking of birds and blood ivory through Tanzania too have cast doubts on the government’s true intent to promote wildlife based tourism, where nature and biodiversity could be sustained for generations instead of advocating the reckless exploitation in the short term of resources, which when gone will arguably have left not much behind for the people of Tanzania.

Only re-elected last year for a final 5 year term of office, this term already reeks of wanton destruction and one can only wait and see what else Kikwete will do to further discredit himself and expose his machinations against conservation.

11 Responses

  1. Shameful what he is trying to do.
    Sunlight is the best disinfectant.
    Follow the money.

  2. Thank you very much for this article … i am sharing.
    Unfortunately, Tanzania is increasingly becoming the target of international investors who see sustainable tourism as a hindrance to profit. The same economic interests that have in the last thirty years led to the destruction of more than 50% of the Earth’s remaining natural habitats are now beginning to take hold in Tanzania. The Serengeti seems destined to be sacrificed to profit the same way as the Asian rain forests and, more recently, the Gulf of Mexico.
    In order to make the Serengeti more appealing to tourism investment, a previous plan to develop the existing road that skirts the Serengeti to the south and links the urban centres around Lake Victoria to ports on the Indian Ocean has been shelved in favour of a new plan to build a highway straight through the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem to the north, even though the plan to improve the existing road makes more economic and ecological sense

    Best regards Uwe Skrzypczak

  3. I will never understand that people simply do not get it: YOU CANNOT EAT MONEY!!!!!

  4. Greed is an ugly characteristic only found in shortsighted self interested individuals. This is so unlike the people of Tanzania. It must be painful to watch from there. It is painful to see from here. These are types of actions which cause people to finally rise up. I am so sorry to see once again the heritage of a proud people trampled by those in power. Once it was imperialism now it is from within. An uproar is needed from those within as well as, those outside who care about the natural world which some think is theirs to exploit, rape, and then leave in waste. David is right follow the money, the trail will try to remain hidden but it is there.

  5. I can not believe Kikwete has still not done the right thing.It just shows how Ruthless he really is.Its just devadtating.This has to be stopped.They r gods greatest creations.not to be messed with by greedy Kikwete.

  6. While railing against actions in Tanzania, we should look at the damage being done to our own countries and indigenous animals in the name of progress!

  7. The peoples of Tanzania and Kenya should be given the right to vote on this issue of national and regional importance because it will have such a profound effect on the very soul of their respective countries. At least then the decision will be democratically taken even if the result is unpalatable to the rest of the world.

  8. Where is this information from? How can we know that this is facts? I am writing a paper on the Serengeti “highway” and I need reliable sources. But thanks for saying it anyways.

    1. From about a dozen reliable and long known sources across Tanzania. Run your own searches on the individual components and you too will be able to connect the dots, from the coast to the mining concessions between the Serengeti and Lake Victoria. I am sure you will find plenty to write about too.

  9. The only way to save the planet is to CRUSH capitalism, and the only way that will happen is for a complete collapse of the global economy I’m afraid… why? because there’s now no longer any time left.