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Compromise on Serengeti road?: build an elevated highway

Famed anthropologist and conservationist Richard Leakey has proposed a possible solution to the hugely controversial Serengeti road: build an elevated highway. Leakey made the remarks during a conference at Rutgers University on May 14th, as reported by Live Science. The Tanzanian government’s plans to build a road through the remote, northern Serengeti has come under both environmental and international criticism, as scientific studies and leaked government reports have found the proposed road would hugely hamper the world famous migration across the plans.



“It would be a grand spectacle, to see animals migrating by underneath, and signal Africa’s commitment to wildlife,” Leakey reportedly said. “If I can drive over 30 miles of elevated highways in New Jersey, why not in the Serengeti?”



The costs of building the highway would rise by some 40 percent, but once construction was finished the migration could continue largely unimpeded, according to Leakey.



Leakey first brought up the idea of an elevated highway in 2010, but few took notice of it. However as the proposal for a 30 mile (50 kilometer) highway through the Serengeti appears stalled, the Tanzanian government may be ready to look at other options.



In fact, plans to build the road have gone through several changes. In 2011, it was widely reported that the road project had been cancelled. But in fact, Tanzania clarified that it still planned to go ahead with the road, only that it would be unpaved. However such plans haven’t dampened criticism: many fear that once a road is built, it will be only a matter of time before it is paved as traffic (according to government reports) will rise to some 3,000 vehicles a day by 2035.



Conservation groups have long offered another possible solution to the bypass: build a southern route that bypasses the northern Serengeti, while, in addition, construct small, local roads for remote villages in the northern Serengeti.






Elephants in Tanzania. Conservationists fear that not only will the migration be blocked, but many species could become road-kill victims to vehicles, including large commercial trucks. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Elephants in Tanzania. Conservationists fear that not only will the migration be blocked, but many species could become road-kill victims to vehicles, including large commercial trucks. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.









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