We received this update from ATTA and thought you might be interested to see it:
"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."
One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about travelling is the liquorice allsorts of people I find myself rubbing elbows with. As a camp manager, where tourists came to look at the animals, I was often lodge-bound and ever so slightly crazy with cabin fever, so the variety of human life that passed through my patch provided no end of entertainment (I’m conscious that this little revelation is likely to spark mass paranoia amongst the holiday-makers, but really, look around...what d’you expect?). I’ve had high-flying New York types that tripped out of helicopters for a dirty weekend and recoiled from the visitor’s book in case they incriminated themselves (small world that it is). There have been mummy’s little darlings who refused anything to eat but fanta and bread, buried toothpicks in the sofas, and were rather light-fingered in the gift shop. Other camp managers tell stories of a “goth” woman who insisted on seeing her orange juice squeezed in front of her and required mineral water to wash her hair...and this on a remote beach in East Africa. I remember scratching my head over the menu for a diabetic, lactose and gluten-intolerant raw foodist, with an allergy to monosodium glutamate (sigh). You get my point.
The locals can be a strange bunch too. On a trip through Malawi, our 1958 Land Rover ground to an agonising, clunking halt, as only a Land Rover can, in a mosquito-ridden swamp called Kazilizili. From behind a dark bush materialised a man wearing a broad hat fashioned from black bin bags and fishing line, strumming a jaunty tune on a homemade banjo. He was joined by another rural type, clad in a fashionable, though grubby, Burberry trench coat, who brought a Tipex bottle to his nostrils, declaring in the Queen’s own English: “Where’s my snuff? Where’s my snuff?” It’s not something that you easily forget, and inhabitants (or should I say inmates?) of Kazilizili still appear to me in disturbed moments.
And then there are the nomads of the world. While working in Kenya’s Rift Valley, a visit to market day in a Maasai village yielded a pair of handsome sun-burnished French folk, wearing what looked like school uniform, carrying a small backpack each. They were in the process of walking from Cape Town to Jerusalem (as you do), trusting only in the generosity of people along the way, and a film has since been made about them. We spent hours listening to their tales of soaking in the hot-tubs of South African millionaires, and of sharing meals with warlords in countries that you only hear about for all the wrong reasons.
Incidentally, this week I bought an apple pie from a lady dressed as a fairy standing at a Harare traffic light. Apparently the apple pie, in addition to a good thing to have with a cup of tea, was also the secret to eternal life. I’ll let you know how that pans out.
As the saying goes; “there’s nought stranger than folk”.