I heard a news report the other day that disturbed me. The Tanzanian government is planning to build a road through the Serengeti.
Why? Lake Victoria is the source of minerals used in cell phones. The government wants a faster way to get the minerals from Lake Victoria to the capital, Dar es Salaam. The quickest way is across the internationally-famous wildlife preserve known as the Serengeti.
The upside for Tanzania is that the government would make more money, presumably to care for the people of Tanzania. The downside is the impact on the wildlife of the Serengeti, which in turn could affect tourism.
Not only will a highway disrupt life on the plains, it will affect the migration of two million wildebeest (also known as gnus). Such disruptions will affect the life, death and growth cycles of the wildlife and plant life of the Serengeti, and the Masai Mara to the north, just across the border with Kenya. Additionally, trucks traveling the new highway could drop foreign seeds, thus changing the ecosystem.
Tanzania, like Kenya, is a former British colony in East Africa. It is bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Kenya to the north, Lake Victoria to the northwest, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, and Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique to the south. The two main languages of Tanzania are English and Kiswahili. In addition to the Serengeti, tourists flock to Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro.
Now, why do I care?
- Because I’ve been there. I’ve been inspired by the Serengeti – by its beauty and its wildlife.
- Because I’ve used the Serengeti (and the neighboring Masai Mara) in my writing.
- Because my friend and critique partner, Brooke Rousseau, also writes about the wildlife of that part of the world (*Shameless Plug Alert* Check out Brooke’s publisher’s site and their Facebook page for more info on Brooke and her Savanna Stories for young children.)
- Because the Serengeti is a natural resource that cannot be replaced. The flora and fauna there deserve to be protected. Wild lands are disappearing around the world thanks to deforestation and desertification and the world would be a poorer place without the wonders of the Serengeti.
Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox – for now. At this start of a new year, let’s remember the places that inspire us, the tools that allow us to reach our goals, and the people who support us in our dreams.