Monday, September 15, 2014

Thirsty Serengeti wildlife to get new water hole: Lake Victoria

Kizito Makoye in Reuters via the Thomson Reuters Foundation: After decades of struggling to help the wildlife of Serengeti National Park cope with Tanzania's increasingly intense droughts, the government is implementing a controversial plan to use Lake Victoria as an alternative water source for animals.

The project aims to ensure the survival of millions of animals, including the wildebeests and zebras that take part in the Great Migration every year, and involves reviving a 36 sq km (14 sq mile) wildlife corridor by extending the border of the park to Lake Victoria's Gulf of Speke.

But guaranteeing animals safe passage to the second-largest freshwater lake in the world will mean evicting hundreds of families living on the land. Government officials say moving about 8,000 people out of the Speke Game Controlled Area in Bunda district is essential to conserve the Serengeti's ecosystem as it faces worsening drought.

"This process is unavoidable due to the importance of the area to the Serengeti-Maasai Mara ecosystem," said a report from the Mara Regional Consultative Committee (RCC), a government body. "The cost to implement these decisions now is much smaller than [it would be after] waiting for more years."

A member of the RCC told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that the project's budget is an estimated $33 million....

A sunset in the eastern Serengeti, shot by Harvey Barrison, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons 2.0 license 

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