We are extremely grateful to Sushil Chauhan and Transworld Safaris (Kenya) Ltd for their support and branding their fleet with the Hands Off Our Elephants stickers.
We look forward to seeing these stickers on more and more vehicles.
In what appears to be a great accomplishment for conservation, the Tanzanian Government has cancelled plans to build a highway across the Serengeti. WildlifeDirect wrote about the threat of the Serengeti Highway back in June when the decision by the Tanzanian government at the time seemed impossible to reverse.
While the decision by the government to scrap plans for the highway appears wise, the truth remains that it took tremendous pressure from NGO’s like WildlifeDirect, the IUCN, The World Heritage Commission, the German and US Governments. And this was despite support from China to build the road!
While many are celebrating success, we remain cautious. The official statement reads
“The State Party confirms that the proposed road will not dissect the Serengeti National Park and therefore will not affect the migration and conservation values of the Property,”,
It does not explicitly say that the proposed road is actually cancelled.
We remain vigilant because it is not clear what this statement really means.
Last week I visited the Masai Mara with conservationists and a news reporter as part of preparations in producing a news piece about the situation.
The sight and sounds of the plains swarming with wildebeest is something that all citizens of planet earth should one day enjoy. It will not be possible if the Tanzanians build a highway across the migrating path of the wildebeest. I took tons of photos and recorded the sounds of these extraordinary animals.
1.3 million wildebeest and Zebra arrive in Kenya after months of trekking across the Tanzanian savannas in search of short sweet grass of the Mara plains in Kenya. It’s the dry season and they are hungry.
They form fantastic concentrations not seen anywhere else in the world
But to get to the sweet grass they have to cross the mighty Mara River – it can take hours before the first animal takes the plunge.
The massive crocodiles didn’t take a single animal in the crossing we watched – too full from gorging themselves the day before.
The Tanzanian Government plans to construct a highway across the Serengeti which will stop the migrating wildebeest and bring and end to the great migration. If you would like to know more about this impending crisis, please check out my previous posts on it.
This blog post celebrates features that we’d like to draw your attention to this month. Did you know that WildlifeDirect is on the Radio? We’ve been using PRX an online Public Radio Exchange –a community radio based in USA to share our interviews and some of our stories on WildlifeDirects own PRX channel . If you haven’t heard about them here is a list of some of our favourite Radio pieces on PRX.com
Saving the Mathews Range – a 22 minute debate recorded around a campfire in a wilderness campsite in a little known remote isolated tropical forest capped mountain in Kenyas northern deserts (8.5 mins).
Paula Kahumbu who is married to the BBC reporter on the story to the Mathews Range assisted in the video and online piece that is currently on the BBC website
Serengeti disaster on the horizon – The Serengeti Highway Richard Leakey discusses the looming end to the wildebeest migration as a result of the planned Serengeti Highway (8.5 minutes).
Can global targets for carbon emissions be met in fast growing developing nations? Paula Kahumbu talks to a low income earner in Kenya to illustrate the challenges that African countries will face in confronting targets for reducing green house gas emissions to meet climate change targets (4 mins).
Poisoning lions. An authoritative 5 minute piece about the continuing decline of lions due to killing of lions in Kenya poisoned using a deadly pesticide called carbofuran
Secrets of the sexy stalk eyed flies –a funny 1 minute interview with insect lover Dino Martins about a bizarre fly
Please listen to our stories and share widely
Stop the Serengeti Highway
The big story that we are seeking action this month is the Serengeti Highway. It is beyond imagination that the great migration could disappear forever. It seems unthinkable that anyone would do anything to cause the migration to cease. Yet, it’s actually happening! We told the story of a controversial decision made by Tanzanian authorities to build a highway right across the migration path of millions of wildebeest and other animals in the Serengeti National Park. The global consequence of destroying the wildebeest migration is unthinkable, it is something that no individuals, politicians, presidents or anyone, should be allowed to take. I also interviewed Richard Leakey about the story and he reminded us that Tanzania needs to develop the region for the people of Tanzania, and he made some sober recommendations which we hope the Tanzanians will be considering. The Serengeti Highway story also aired on Mongabay.com one of the worlds largest conservation blogs after the webmaster invited me to submit the story to them too
Nature radio in Seychelles
Meanwhile in Seychelles, Nirmal Shah of Nature Seychelles has been producing wonderful radio pieces about nature that are aired on local radio but can also be listened to online. It’s wonderful to hear him describing lying in mud to observe water skimmers, tiny insects that most of us ignore.
Nairobi National park zebra migration
One of the most important dry season grazing for wildlife in the Athi Kapiti plaisn is the Nairobi National Park. It often hosts thousands of animals on a seasonal basis. The park, which lies within the city boundaries, is in trouble precicely because of it’s location. Developments, encroachment, poaching and pollution are all exacting a toll on this wonderful wildlife refuge. Through his regular posts adorned with spectacular photographs, Will Knocker reminds about what makes Nairobi Park special. This week the Zebra migration is in full swing – a wonderful spectacle, especially for those who cannot make it to the Masai Mara to witness the great migration which has just started there.
Poisoning wildlife – the Ongoing debacle
More than two years after WildlifeDirect began reporting the escalation of pesticide poisoning of wildlife in Kenya, the authorities have finally taken it up and created a multi sector Task Force to address the problem. Representing conservation organizations in Kenya, Paula Kahumbu is has been attending the meetings. She reports on the frustrations and the modest progress on that front on the Baraza blog. Meanwhile Martin Odino continues to report the poisoning of birds in Kenya’s irrigation schemes on http://stopwildlifepoisoning.org, and Munir Virani and others raise the alarm about vulture poisoning in Africa.
Other wonderful posts
Video footage from a mobile phone of a sunbear climbing is my favourite post this week.
Lion guardians find a new pair of magnificent males – in an area where lions have been severely persecuted. Predator Aware team also capture two hunting cheetah brothers in spectacular photographs.
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Art for conservation are looking for volunteers to help in Rwanda. Read more in their Art for Gorilla blog.