Several months ago, the Tanzanian Government made the decision to build a highway through the wildlife-rich Serengeti that connects the Dar es Salaam port with Musoma. Unfortunately, this construction could have dire consequences for the wildlife that inhabit this region, and pass through it during The Great Migration, which is an annual occurrence of hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebra.
Every year, The Great Migration occurs around the general rainfall of the area and influences grazing patterns. What makes this site so spectacular is not just its irresistible beauty, but the unimaginable amount of game that passes through this lively region in search of water during The Great Migration, one of the major wonders of the world.
The migration begins in Kenya and slowly moves back toward the short grasses of the Serengeti, following the short rains, which usually occur in late October/early November. Once the grass plains have lost their water supply, the migration follows the rains northwest in order to find lush grass. This change of scenery usually occurs in May.
If a highway is built that passes through the Serengeti, the wildebeest and zebra populations will face serious consequences. As the human population expands, so will the road and so will the traffic that passes along the road. The wildebeest will be forced in a different direction to find food and water—resources that are difficult to come by.
The Tanzanian Government believes that the construction of this road will have positive effects on the economies of East Africa. Although this is a great possibility, this construction will increase traffic through the area and could introduce higher levels of poaching and pollution to the region, effecting the delicate habitats and resident wildlife of the Serengeti.
On the one side, the road is necessary for economic expansion. The population of the world is growing steadily and with expansion you must accommodate with infrastructure. If the population continues to increase in the areas between Dar es Salaam and Musoma, it will become extremely difficult to sustain the local economies without a sound route to transport goods and travel.
On the other side, if the wildebeest and zebra populations decrease—or even worse, become extinct—you’re looking at a devastating hit to the food chain and even to the tourism and safari industry.
Many conservationists, economists, and traffic experts agree that there are various ways to avoid negative effects on the wildlife while increasing economic stability across the region. They believe that there are several alternatives to creating a road that bisects the Serengeti. Some of these options include building the road further north or south, or raising the road above the ground so that wildlife could pass freely below it. Although these alternatives might be more expensive, in the end, they will help to preserve The Great Migration and the wildlife of the Serengeti.
What are your thoughts on the development of this highway through the Serengeti?
Sandy Salle is CEO and co-owner of Hills of Africa Travel. A native of Zimbabwe, Sandy was born and raised in southern Africa and was fortunate to travel to many places in the southern part of the continent. While she is now happily an American citizen, she does miss Africa—the smell of the first rains, the beautiful sunsets, and the magic of the people. Believing the next best thing to living in Africa is sharing it with others, in 2002, she joined Hills of Africa Travel as a partner with her sister-in-law, Meredith Hill. Sandy is Hills of Africa’s personal escort and takes great pride in giving her clients the once-in-a-lifetime magical African experience they’ll remember forever. For more information, visit Hills of Africa’s website, and blog, and connect with Sandy on Twitter and Facebook.