Will a Road Through the Serengeti Kill Tanzania’s Giant Tourism A.T.M.?

Travel Blog  •  Michael Yessis  •  11.02.10 | 11:45 AM ET

Tanzania president Jakaya Kikwete wants to build a highway through the Serengeti, the location of the Great Migration, which, Jeffrey Gettleman writes, is “widely considered one of the most spectacular assemblies of animal life on the planet.” What will happen if the proposed road gets built?

Scientists and conservation groups paint a grim picture of what could happen next: rare animals like rhinos getting knocked down as roadkill; fences going up; invasive seeds sticking to car tires and being spread throughout the park; the migration getting blocked and the entire ecosystem becoming irreversibly damaged.

Tourism could also be a casualty.

Hundreds of thousands of people here depend on tourism for a living. And the Serengeti is like a giant A.T.M. for Tanzania, attracting more than 100,000 visitors each year, producing millions of dollars in park fees and helping drive Tanzania’s billion-dollar safari business, an economic pillar. “If anything bad happens to the Serengeti,” said Charles Ngereza, a Tanzanian tour operator, “we’re finished.”

Jeffrey Gettleman narrates an accompanying video.

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