I have already stated yet still cannot fully express my love for wildlife. I mean, in another world, I’d be a lion whisperer because lions and elephants hold a special place in my heart. Maybe I still can be a lion whisperer once I retire. Who knows.
It’s this love for the African wild that makes me watch and read a crazy amount of National Geographic, Discovery Channel and the like. It also means I stay informed on what’s going on in various national parks. One story that caught my eye a while back is the Tanzanian government’s proposal to build a highway that slices right through the Serengeti.
First, a brief history and summary of the Serengeti from their website: www.serengeti.org
The Serengeti is located in the north west ofTanzania. The Serengeti region encompasses the Serengeti National Park, as well as the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Maswa Game reserve, the Loliondo, Grumeti and Ikorongo Controlled Areas, and the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Over 90,000 tourists from all over the world visit the Serengeti National Park each year. The Serengeti Natioanl Park was established as a World Heritage site, and it home to the greatest natural migration in the world. Over 1.3 million wildebeest and 750,000 zebra migrate annually from the southern most part of the Serengeti National park, to the Maasai Mara region in Kenya towards the North.
It is the oldest ecosystem in the world, and the essential features of climate, vegetation and fauna have barely changed in the past million years. Early man himself made an appearance in Olduvai Gorge about two million years ago. Some patterns of life, death, adaption and migration are as old as the hills themselves.
This rich history is now threatened by the proposed Serengeti Highway. The project has the potential to disrupt the migration and the ecosystem that exists in the Serengeti. The Serengeti Highway project is a proposal by the Tanzanian government to build a highway that bisects the Serengeti National Park. This has been a contentious issue that has created friction between the Tanzanian government and environmentalists, activists and ecologists from all over the world. There is an existing dirt road that cuts through the Serengeti and it is this road that the Tanzanian governments want to pave to make into a public transportation route; one that will help with the transportation of goods and services from towns and cities in the Lake Victoria region on the West to major cities like Arusha in the East.
I began to research the project in my final year of architecture school. I looked for precedents that could give an idea of the potential impact such a project could have on the environment and the ecology. I read the Environmental Impact Report created by the government, and I watched a ton of clips about the Serengeti. There’s a lot of information out there, but not much that can say with utmost certainty what the effects would be. But one can make a pretty educated guess.
I started to compile it into a single publication – a manifesto of sorts – and I’m hoping to continue to add to it. My conclusion was essentially that it would be a bad idea to build a highway through the Serengeti – at least in the manner that the government suggests.
My hope is that I will post more and share more on my discoveries on here as they progress. But for now, I’ll leave you with this beautiful video that not only makes me homesick, but most importantly captures some of the incredible beauty that is the Serengeti: