Highway threatens wildlife in the Serengeti: economic development or conservation of the environment?

by Fred Munro on Septembre 13, 2016 - 2:08am

The Serengeti is a huge grassland that covers 15 000 square kilometers and is home to a huge diversity of species. Its name, derived from the Maasai language, translates into “endless” or “extended”. The Serengeti’s most famous feature is the wildebeest migration that is known to be the largest land mammal migration on Earth. The vast majority of this migration happens in the African country Tanzania. In order to ensure its economic well-being and improvement, the government of Tanzania was willing to approve the building of a highway that would cross through the Serengeti National Park. This highway would create an easy method to transport valuable minerals such as coltan (used in cell phones) and oils from the Atlantic Ocean shores to the Indian Ocean shores all the while inspiring communities near it to develop at an increased rate. This would also cost Africa very little as China is willing to fund most of the project demanding a percentage of the oils and minerals in return. The government of Tanzania is tied up between the decisions of building it or not as it would be a high risk. The Serengeti attracts many tourists every year and amounts to around $1.8 billion per year and generates around 1 million jobs directly and indirectly. The ecosystem can be very severely altered in negative ways if this highway is built. Most of the country’s predators, such as large cats and crocodiles, rely heavily on the migrating animals in order to survive through certain seasons. The migrating mammals also help feed the grasses with their excrements. Building this highway would starve many predators and reduce the amount of grass available for grazing animals resulting in a very severe change in the Serengeti’s ecosystem. Though the building of this highway may greatly enhance the country’s wealth by changing its main source of income from tourism to more industrial revenue which could increase the rate at which this country develops. For the people that are favoring the building of the highway, they face the moral principles of following what nature intends and the end does not justify the means. They are conflicted with the need of the highway for economic development and the way they may sabotage the environment in order to obtain it. On the other hand, the people acting against the building of this highway are conflicted with the moral principle that people should always do what’s best for them as the highway would benefit them in the long run. This dilemma creates a value conflict between wealth and harmony with the environment.

            In my opinion, the government of Tanzania should in no way build this highway. They have a healthy alternative that would require a short detour around the southern border of the wildebeest’s territory but would result in 4 times as many towns and villages being touched by this highway which would benefit their economy without destroying ecosystems. I believe letting the government of Tanzania build this destructive highway through important lands would open the doors to more environment destroying projects which could draw us even further from our connections with nature. I don't believe we should sacrifice harmony with our environment for wealth given the environment is crucial to our planet's survival. The ends to be rich does not justify the means that include the destruction of nature. Do you believe we humans should prioritize economic development over the conservation of the environment?

 

Works Cited

Norton, Boyd. "Fighting the Paving of Paradise" Earth Island Journal 27.2 (2012): 16-17. Academic Search Elite. Web. 13 Sept. 2016.