The Serengeti contains the largest protected grassland and savannah ecosystem in the world and is home to the greatest abundance of large mammals anywhere on earth. The Tanzanian government is planning a 54-kilometer long commercial highway right through the Serengeti. The consequences for the world’s last terrestrial mass migration and the ecosystem it supports would be catastrophic. It would cut off some two million herbivores from their vital dry season range. Scientists predict, this would cause the collapse of the migration and the ecosystem dynamics that depend on it. It should also avoid the land of the last 400 Hadza, one of Africa’s last true hunter gatherers.
The solution lies in a route that bypasses the Serengeti and the World Bank and the German government are willing to work with the government of Tanzania on an alternative. A southern bypass would not only spare the Serengeti, but benefit a far greater number of people in the densely populated area in the south east of the Serengeti by connecting them to commercial centres and road networks. At the same time, disadvantaged communities in the remote east of the Park could also be linked up. However, the Tanzanian government remains unconvinced and has so far rejected this win-win position.
The evidence is clear. International scientists and conservation experts agree that plans to construct a 54 km highway through the northern part of Tanzania’s oldest National Park, would strike a fatal blow to the Serengeti ecosystem, with profound effects on everything from plant and insect communities to predators, all of which depend on the migration. The regular pulse of the migration is the very heartbeat that keeps the Serengeti alive. Without it, it will die.
There is no credible alternative to this judgment. The biological and economic cost of cross Serengeti highway will be a disaster for Tanzania, a tragedy for conservation and a black mark in Tanzania's history .
As Tanzania’s most visited tourist destination, the Serengeti brings great wealth to your country because it is unique. I recognise the urgent need to bring prosperity to Tanzania and its people. It is out concern for your country that I respectfully suggest that Tanzania’s interests are best served by building a road link around the South of the Serengeti. The World Bank’s offer to work with you towards an alternative southern route will make this possible and is a clear signal of the world community’s support for you and the people of Tanzania. A southern route that avoids Hadza land, combined with a road that links the people to the east of the Serengeti, will benefit more Tanzanians by providing them with access to markets and road networks, while preserving the integrity of the Serengeti ecosystem. I therefore urge you to make every effort towards this solution for the sake of your people, the Serengeti and the rest of mankind.