Tanzania has a remarkable record of conservation that includes some of the greatest natural areas left on earth, such as the iconic Serengeti National Park. But massive new development, government inaction, and an eroding ethic of conservation are bringing this heritage to the brink.
Assaults to a priceless natural heritage
Elephants in Tanzania are being slaughtered at a tragic rate. An extensive report just released by the United Nations shows that Tanzania leads the continent as the source of blood ivory!
Work is starting on paved roads around the Serengeti National Park, increasing the threat of a commercial route cutting across the park itself. Scientists say this would be the end of the great migration. The government has ignored international help to build a better southern route around the park.
The government says it is determined to build a soda ash factory on Lake Natron, the breeding ground of virtually all of Africa’s Lesser Flamingoes.
A port is being planned for Mwambani Harbor, which will destroy the Tanga Coelocanth Marine National Park.
Uranium mining will begin in Tanzania’s Selous Reserve, which has one of the largest concentrations of elephants in Africa.
There are plans for a dam on the Rufiji River, a critical water source in the Selous reserve.
There is corruption among officials, who have been implicated in the ivory trade and disappearance of climate change funds.
UNESCO wanted to make the Eastern Arc Mountains a World Heritage Site. After fifteen years of work, the government abruptly stopped the process.
We must tell President Kikwete that the world is watching. His government must reverse course, stop the wildlife slaughter, abandon threats to the Serengetii and other areas, and protect the heritage it inherited on behalf of the Tanzanian people and the world.
President Obama, on his recent visit with you in Tanzania, spoke openly of the devastating loss of wildlife in Africa. Since his visit, he has announced important new directives against wildlife trafficking.
After your recent award in Washington, the world is anxiously waiting for you to join with President Obama and demonstrate your own leadership and commitment to your country's wildlife and natural areas.
We have all watched the alarming decline of Tanzania’s longstanding heritage of conservation, wisely passed down from your first president, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.
Now you have an historic opportunity to reverse this destructive downward spiral and ensure the survival of your nation's remarkable natural legacy.
We urge you:
- Stop the massive slaughter of elephants with decisive action. There is little time left.
- Permanently protect the Serengeti ecosystem by prohibiting any development that will endanger the great migration, including the prohibition of any commercial traffic.
- Adopt an alternative southern route around the Serengeti, as proposed by the Government of Germany and the World Bank.
- Permanently protect Lake Natron, the breeding area of East Africa’s Lesser Flamingos, by halting plans to mine soda ash.
- Work with conservationists to protect the Selous Reserve from projects such as uranium mining and the dam on the Rufiji River, a critical water source for this vital area.
- Ensure that new ocean ports do not destroy marine protected areas, such as the Tanga Coelocanth Marine Park.
- Encourage open discussion and vigorously protect the right to public dissent on matters of conservation and development.
We understand that balancing development and conservation is difficult. But both are essential to the long term welfare of nations.
It is urgent that you exercise strong leadership. We believe that if the current course is not changed, the Tanzanian people, and the world, will lose an irreplaceable natural heritage.