Posts Tagged With: African Wildlife Foundation

Paving Paradise: the Road to Disaster

The Serengeti is a National Heritage Site, home to one of the most highly diverse groups of animals and habitats on the planet. The majestic serengeti mapecosystem stretches from Tanzania to Kenya, and 80% of it is currently protected by both governments.

The Serengeti is an infamous tourist destination, giving ample opportunities to view the Big Five, and of course the Great Migration. The Migration is an annual phenomenon, during which time hundreds of thousands of wildebeests, zebra and antelope move in herds from one grazing area to the next, spanning approximately 1800 miles.

Tourism is a significant part of Kenya’s economy, and it has emerged as the top foreign exchange earner in Tanzania last year as well.  According to Africa Travel and Tourism, basing on its great potential, the sector has much to be confident about in 2014.

Paving Paradise

construction in serengetiIn 2010, the Tanzania government announced a plan to construct a paved commercial highway across the Serengeti.  They believe this will more easily facilitate trade and travel, linking the country’s coast to Lake Victoria and countries to the west, including Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The group Serengeti Watch conducted a survey of over 300 scientists from varying countries who all concluded this would have adverse effects on the Migration. The annual routes of millions of animals would be disrupted, the area would become fragmented, and obviously the human-wildlife conflict would become an urgent concern. (Not to mention, making life “easier” for the poachers and game hunters.)

wildebeests migration

This photo taken during the Migration, in nearly the exact place where the proposed Serengeti highway would bisect this part of Serengeti and Loliondo. Not far from this spot there are survey ribbons hanging on trees.

Since then, there has been international public outcry, as obviously this disturbs one of the most precious ecosystems in the world. Serengeti Watch has brought attention to this devastating  proposal and last year a legal case was filed by Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW). In addition, on Tanzania’s behalf, Serengeti Watch contacted dozens of organizations and more than three hundred experts in an attempt to find expert witnesses. Sadly, no one came forward, out of fear of serious repercussions in their ability to enter, work or remain in Tanzania in the future.

yes to the southern routeAlternative Plan: the Southern Route

In addition to the Serengeti Watch, the Frankfurt Zoological Society, African Wildlife Foundation and many other conservation groups and NGO’s are pushing for a route AROUND the Southern end of the park. This will accomplish the goal of connecting Arusha with the Lake Victoria region which is one of the “purposes” of the highway.

It would help five times as many people and would cost less. The Frankfurt Zoological Society estimates that it would only take 1 HOUR longer to drive!

Although this seems a feasible compromise, protecting both the wildlife and the opportunity for further development, it is still not decided.

The Way It Stands

Currently there will be paved roads on both sides of the Serengeti, connecting Arusha with the Lake Victoria region, things are in the final stages of planning. Contractors have been selected and the government of Tanzania has funds in its  2013-2014 Budget.

The roads will not be built within the Serengeti National Park itself, but they will border it and cross areas where large numbers of wildebeest and zebras migrate. Wildlife will be forced to cross tarmac roads with commercial traffic, including the Wildlife Management Area in Loliondo.

For updates,  join Serengeti Watch on facebook: STOP THE SERENGETI HIGHWAY

Please sign and share the petition to:  Protect Tanzania’s wildlife.

mandela save environment

Categories: Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Yao Ming: Making a Difference

At 7ft, 6 in tall, Yao Ming is an intimidating figure, the tallest player in the NBA during his former career with the Houston Rockets. But this gentle giant is spending his time nowadays educating people on the crisis of elephant and rhino poaching.

As a goodwill ambassador to WildAid, he recently teamed up with the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF). They are launching a major public awareness campaign targeting the consumption of rhino horn and ivory, in China. With public service announcements stating “When the buying stops, the killing can too.”

Yao Ming with one of the four remaining Northern White Rhino at Ol Pejeta Conservancy.

Yao Ming with one of the four remaining Northern White Rhino at Ol Pejeta Conservancy.

According to WildAid.Org, in 2012  a Chinese research company did a study  on elephant poaching  finding that:

  •  More than half of the nearly 1,000 participants (over 50%) do not think elephant poaching is common;
  • 34%, or one in three respondents, believe ivory is obtained from natural elephant mortality;
  • Only 33% of all participants believe elephants are poached for their tusks; and
  • 94% of residents agree theChinese government should impose a ban on the ivory trade

A similar survey was also done on rhino poaching:

  • 66% of all participants, that is two out of every three respondents, are not aware that rhino horn comes from poached rhinos;
  • Nearly 50% believed rhino horn can be legally purchased from official stores; and
  • 95% of residents agree the “Chinese government should take stricter action to prevent use of rhino horns.”

Being an animal lover and inspired by Jackie Chan, the Chinese basketball sensation has made raising awareness a top priority. He is a goodwill ambassador and a promising connection between the poaching crisis of Africa and the demand of the Chinese people.

Yao Ming is followed by Kinango, a 2-week-old orphaned elephant whose mother was poached for her ivory, at Daphne Sheldrick's orphanage.

Yao Ming is followed by Kinango, a 2-week-old orphaned elephant whose mother was poached for her ivory, at Daphne Sheldrick’s orphanage.

According to Ming, “The most effective thing you can do to counter this kind of situation is raise people’s awareness. Eliminate the demand for rhino horn and ivory right at the source. That’s what I want to do. It might take some time, sure, but I’m really hoping that gradually we can start to see an improvement.”

“Poaching threatens livelihoods, education, and development in parts of Africa due to the insecurity it brings and loss of tourism revenue. No one who sees the results firsthand, as I did, would buy ivory or rhino horn. I believe when people in China know what’s happening they will do the right thing and say no to these products.”

Ming’s previous campaign to educate the Chinese on the demand of shark fins,  is credited with a reduction of 50 – 70% in consumption of shark fin in China in 2012. We can only hope his current drive to eliminate the demand for horn and tusk is just as effective.

Yao Mings PSA: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151340496426316

Categories: Making a Difference, Rhino Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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