ITHACA, New York – Travel companies, associations, and travelers around the world are asking the government of Tanzania to stop plans for a major commercial highway across the Serengeti National Park.
The government of Tanzania recently approved a major commercial truck highway across the Serengeti. The US$480 million highway is planned to link Arusha and the Maasai Mara Game Reserve in Kenya through the Serengeti National Park, said Isidori Shirima, Arusha regional commissioner.
Conservation organizations have warned that the highway would be destructive to the Serengeti ecosystem, as it cuts across the path of ancient wildlife migration routes. The Frankfurt Zoological Society, which has been the main supporter of the Serengeti for the past fifty years, stated, “The entire Serengeti will change into a completely different landscape holding only a fraction of its species and losing its world-class tourism potential and its status as the world’s most famous national park – an immense backlash against the goodwill and conservation achievements of Tanzania.”
Responding to the threat, an online petition by travel operators and associations asks the government of Tanzania to stop the highway. It warns that, in addition to damaging a priceless World Heritage Site, it would damage Tanzania’s tourist industry, jeopardizing billions of shillings in foreign exchange needed for economic development.
Tour companies and associations interested in signing the petition should go to the following web site:
On the site, there is a link to the travel industry petition, as well as information on how individuals can get involved. The website also has background information on the highway and its impacts, as well as links to articles and official positions by the African Wildlife Foundation and Frankfurt Zoological Society. Also included in the site is information on an alternative route around the southern part of the Serengeti that preserves the ecosystem and provides service to a greater number of Tanzanians.
The Serengeti ecosystem is a geographical region located in northwestern Tanzania and southern Kenya. It hosts the largest and longest overland migration in the world. Some two million wildebeest, zebras, and antelope make the annual trek each year between Kenya’s Masai Mara Reserve and the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. It is widely regarded as the greatest wildlife spectacle on Earth, and the Serengeti National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.