INTERNATIONAL SERENGETI DAY
It was in May last year when investigations carried out by eTN led to the disclosure of advanced plans by the government of Tanzania to build a highway across the migration paths of the great herds of wildebeest and zebras in the UNESCO recognized Serengeti National Park . Initially disputed, but in the face of growing evidence finally confirmed, it became also known that many of Tanzania’s own wildlife and conservation experts from TANAPA and SENAPA were dead against the plans but outranked by politicians, led by sycophants aimed to please their president – who at the time was on the elections trail – and when attempting to publicly voice their opposition told to shut up, put up or get out. Disheartened by such totalitarian methods did a number of them eventually provide details to the media, often through third parties to prevent detection, as it is not uncommon to end up in court with framed up charges simply for opposing government, even if government is entirely wrong about something.
38757 individuals and NGO’s from around the world are now members of a still growing coalition, aimed to have the highway moved to the Northern side of the park – not opposed, as has been portrayed by Tanzanian officials, to be against any road nor aiming to deny the Tanzanian people ‘services’ – and UNESCO, the World Bank, the Frankfurt Zoological Society, WWF, AWF, IFAW and many other globally renowned conservation groups have joined that call for moderation and reflection but all fallen on deaf ears so far.
The father of the Tanzanian nation ‘Mwalimu’ Julius Nyerere had pledged to leave the Serengeti intact and stood side by side with the late Prof. Dr. Grzimek, whose books, articles and films ‘Serengeti Must Not Die’ made the Serengeti known around the globe to protect and preserve the national park. Those ideals though are now being trampled into the dust, and when government’s initially well concealed traffic projections were leaked and became widely known, it was clear that this highway would radically change and then eventually destroy the world’s largest migration. Estimates from experts who have studied the migration for many years are projecting a lost of 70 or more percent of the herds, as their migration, feeding and breeding cycle faces disruption and when the initially several hundred cars a day rise to the projected figure of 3.000 cars a day, including trucks and busses, the fate of the Serengeti will be sealed and one of the world’s great natural wonders taken from mankind forever.
Tomorrow, 19th of March, will see events unfold around the globe, dedicated to the Serengeti and its future survival, and here is a short breakdown of key cities where conservation friends will be active tomorrow:
- In Kenya several organizations are holding a youth march in downtown Nairobi and a nature center in Kangundo is planting trees.
- In Melbourne, Australia, there will be a Walk for a Wildebeest in Melbourne.
- Zoological societies in the United States are putting up posters.
- The Chicago Field Museum will be holding a special lecture.
- In France, many school teachers are presenting programs using a special Serengeti Day curriculum and children are writing letters.
- In Tanzania there are talks scheduled in schools, two schools are doing a tree planting, and there will be a seminar.
- Posters are being placed around Spain.
- In Grahamstown, South Africa, there will be a poetry reading. In other parts of South Africa students will be putting up posters.
- In Germany and the UK, people are sending petitions and postcards to Tanzanian Embassies.
- In Canada, there is a mass letter writing campaign.
Check on Facebook with the administrators of the ‘Stop the Serengeti Highway’ site with happenings near your own location and participate if and as you can. For ease of reference here is the FB link which puts the site only a click away: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/pages/STOP-THE-SERENGETI-HIGHWAY/125601617471610
In closing, this correspondent is proud to have been the small stone which triggered this global ‘avalanche’ and is particularly grateful to his colleagues at eTN for continuing to keep the spotlight on these developments.