11 FEB 2011:
A proposed two-lane road across the northern edge of Serengeti National Park in Tanzania would block the migration of 1.5 million wildebeest and threaten endangered species, according to a leaked government report. The study, obtained by the conservation group Serengeti Watch, predicts that heavy traffic on the 33.5-mile road — designed to link Tanzania to Uganda, Lake Victoria, and beyond — will “limit” the migration of wildebeest and zebra that move from the southern Serengeti to Kenya’s Masai Mara reserve in search of water supplies. According to the report, which is an environmental impact study prepared for the Tanzanian government, the new roadway will attract 400 vehicles per day by 2015, and more than 3,000 vehicles daily by 2035. And while Tanzanian officials insist the road will be unpaved, conservationists say that is unlikely. “Common sense would say with that volume of traffic there is no way you could have a dirt road on top of that soil,” said Dave Blanton, founder of Serengeti Watch. An editorial published last year in the journal Nature predicted that the road would cause a 35-percent decrease in the wildebeest populations and alter the entire ecosystem.