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This has just been issued - it appears to suggest that the road through the Serengeti will go ahead, but not be tarmaced. I think everyone agrees that the road is vital to the communities, but there does seem to be a perfectly good option going south around the park. my understanding is that this route is no more expensive. Whether the road is tarmaced or not is not the issue. Let us know your thoughts on this.
DIRECTORATE OF PRESIDENTIAL COMMUNICATIONS UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA
PRESIDENT’S OFFICE, THE STATE HOUSE, DAR ES SALAAM.
The Government has reassured the international community that Tanzania will never do anything to hurt or take any decision that may irresponsibly destroy the Serengeti National Park such as building a tarmac road through the Park. However, the Government has reiterated its commitment to meet its responsibilities of supporting development efforts of poorer communities living around the park including building a tarmac road on the northern tip of the park to ease the severe transport challenges facing those communities.
“The Serengeti is a jewel of our nation as well as for the international community. We want to give you our assurances that we cannot be irresponsible by destroying the Serengeti. We will do nothing to hurt the Serengeti and we would like the international community to know this,” President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete told Mr. John McIntire, World Bank Country Director today, Wednesday, February 9, 2011 during a courtesy call on the President at the State House in Dar es Salaam.The Dar es Salaam-based Mr. McIntire also represents the Bank in Uganda and Burundi.
Armed with an illustration of a map of northern Tanzania, President Kikwete told Mr. McIntire: “There has been so much unnecessary confusion about this issue. Let me give you my assurances that we will keep the Serengeti intact. We will not build a tarmac road through the Serengeti National Park. We will only build a road around the park to ease very serious transport challenges facing the poorer communities around the park.”
Under the plan, the Government wants to decongest traffic inside the park that currently crosses the Serengeti daily on a 220-kilometer road which passes right through the park. Instead, a planned road will only cross the Serengeti for only 54 kilometers which will remain unpaved.
In recent months, a global network of environmental activists and conservators has mounted a completely misinformed campaign claiming that the Government of Tanzania intends to destroy the Serengeti by building tarmac road through the park, which will seriously hurt the famous migration of wildlife.
“No tarmac road will be built through the Serengeti. As you know well, Tanzania is the most conservatory country in the world. This has been our policy and position since our independence and you can have my assurances that this position will remain unchanged,” said President Kikwete.
“While we will continue protecting our Serengeti seriously, we will also make sure that, as Government, we meet our responsibilities to our people. These people living in the northern side of the park were removed from inside the park itself as part of our conservation efforts. It takes about eight hours of very rough travel to reach their area from Mto wa Mbu town, and it is only 170 kilometers stretch. They have no road. They have no water. They have no power. We will be doing huge injustice if we do not move to correct these imbalances. If they perceive that we don’t care about them, they will easily become enemies of the park and that will harder to deal with.”
“We will continue with our serious efforts of conservation, but we cannot deny these people living on the northern side of the Serengeti border a road. There is neither justification nor explanation for not building this important road.”
The President thanked Mr. McIntire for his suggestion that the World Bank would be willing to fund processes leading to building a tarmac road on the southern side of Serengeti National Park but insisted that the road to the south would not solve transport challenges of communities living on the northern side of the park.
After my ascent to Point Lenana last year and vowing not to do it again, (mainly because of the unGodly wake up hour of 3 am for the summit sunrise!), I was driving past Mt Kenya this morning. There she stood, towering above me. She had such beckoning look! I was very tempted to drop everything and walk through the moorland, and head up to the base of the peaks.
I thought I would share it with you...
On our way for a night under the stars, we came across a hungry young elephant bounding up to his mama for a drink of milk. We thought you might like his story... A very touching moment to witness in the Kenyan wilderness!
I have a friend to whom the idea of sleeping in a tent is as close to purgatory as one could get without actually shuffling off any mortal coils. Conspicuously sporting an intense dislike of adventure, dust and insects, her preferred accommodation will come complete with wall-to-wall carpeting, air-conditioning and 24-hour satellite TV, preferably including Oprah. If no alternative exists, then camping is undertaken, grudgingly, with a convoy of vehicles loaded with chemical toilets, feather duvets, the latest in portable kitchen-sinks and only barely stopping short of a liveried butler.
Said person once made the point that there was really no need for her to visit the Masai Mara when she could view the migration perfectly well on satellite TV, edited for the action without having to hang around waiting for the wildebeest to eventually summon up the courage to take a dip with the crocodiles. Perhaps she has a point.
Recently I’ve been reading interesting stuff about the role that technology will play in the future of travel and it got me thinking. The gadgets and gizmos that are now part of everyday life have done much to bring us into closer proximity to the world’s wondrous environments, wild animals and diverse people. For someone who still hasn’t figured out how the now-obsolete fax machine works, I find it remarkable that, from the couch, I can watch a leopard hunting baboons in the Okavango Delta, or learn about the colourful tribes of Papua New Guinea. I can spectate as the intrepid presenters of Top Gear try hard to kill a Land Cruiser (and themselves) in the Arctic or watch the often excruciating experiences of the likes of Bruce Parry as he surrenders to the manhood initiations of people in South America (incidentally, how many initiations does one need before one feels secure in one’s manhood?).
So I got to thinking, while sitting warm, comfortable and within easy reach of the salted peanuts and a cold beer, why bother leaving the couch at all?
When getting ready to meet our maker, no one ever says “I wish I’d watched more TV”. TVs, Laptops, Smartphones, iPads etc., are amazing for finding out what’s out there, sharing it with your mates and planning your adventures...there’s an app for that, but this is not the same thing as actually “living it”. And therein lies the rub: casting yourself into the 3-D reality of the migration, actually being there and experiencing it, is incomparable in every way to the unmemorable event of observing it on a flat-screen. Out There is where you hear, taste, feel, smell AND see it happening, leaving sensations and emotions deeply and indelibly branded on your psyche.
While life becomes faster, more complicated, more stressful, increasingly artificial, I yearn more and more for simple pleasures such as the delicious sensation of rinsing the days’ adventures off my skin in the balmy evening air under a bucket suspended from the branch of a tree...and there ain’t no app. for that.