26 June 2011
Following a statement issued on Saturday evening but still oficially unconfirmed it appears that the Tanzanian government may have partly backed down in the face of growing global criticism and opposition to their plans to construct a highway across the Serengeti.
The Tanzanian government hasapparently assured the UNESCO World Heritage Center in Paris that they will seek an alternative southern route around the Serengeti to bring road access to rural communities and leave the Serengeti park roads under the administration of TANAPA and for tourism purposes only. #
The proposed highway would have linked remote under-developed communities to larger hubs, cutting through the park into which giant herds of wildebeest migrate between Tnazaani's Serengeti and Kenya's Masai Mara. But following strong world wide criticism of the project, and a recent visit from US Secretary, Hilary Clinton, it appears that the Tanzanian government has informed the United Nations' cultural organisation UNESCO that it had been dropped.
"The World Heritage Committee has received assurance on the part of the Tanzanian government that the highway project is abandoned .The committee has therefore decided not to list the site on its list of endangered World Heritage Sites because the threat has disappeared," said a WHC spokesman.
Tanzania's government had backed the road plan by saying that the country should start caring for its people as much as it did for its wildlife. But critics said it would destroy what scientists consider to be the "largest remaining migratory system on Earth" and lobbied hard against the project.
Serengeti Watch, urge caution, this organisation committed to preserving the Serengeti's ecosystem, said it feared the highway plan could still re-emerge at a later date.
"We do not consider this the final word in the Serengeti Highway saga by any means," the group said
The Serengeti Highway was intended to link Musoma, on the banks of Lake Victoria, to Arusha.
The project's critics argued the road would achieve the opposite of what it set out to do by destroying a key tourist attraction and thus stripping local communities of their jobs.
Serengeti Watch said the government was now considering a highway that would wrap around the southern tip of the protected areas. It quoted a letter it said had been written by Tanzania's Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Ezekiel Maige.
Instead of cutting through the park towards Arusha, this new road would run "south of Ngorongoro Conservation area and Serengeti National Park,"
Watch this space.The industry must keep up the pressure as there are likely to be many twists and turns as this story unfolds