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Conservation and economic benefits of a road around the Serengeti

Author(s): Hopcraft, J. Grant C.; Mduma, Simon A.R.; Borner, Markus; Bigurube, Gerald; Kijazi, Alain; et al

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Abstract: Defining the balance between conservation and national development is fraught with conflicting ideals: at what point should a country prioritize new infrastructure developments above its natural heritage? In the case of Tanzania, the government has identified the need for developing a paved national transportation corridor to Lake Victoria as part of its national development strategy that would facilitate trade and alleviate poverty in the north-western part of the country (United Republic of Tanzania 2010). Although this area is globally recognized for its protected areas, wildlife migrations, and unique biodiversity, the local communities in the region routinely face economic hardship and poor access to social services such as schools and hospitals. The promise of a highway connecting this area is welcomed, however we argue that all potential routes must be critically evaluated and compared. Of the three possible routes that have been suggested one in particular has generated international controversy; the Serengeti route bisects the National Park and passes through the core dry season refuge of the wildebeest migration potentially separating them from the only permanent water source (Dobson et al. 2010). From a conservation perspective this could lead to catastrophic declines in the abundance of this keystone species (Holdo et al. 2011), potentially change the entire dynamics of the ecosystem (Hopcraft et al. in press), and threaten the economic benefits from tourism. However, how does this balance against the potential benefits of the road in terms of human poverty alleviation and provisioning socio-economic opportunities for the people?
Publication Date: Jun-2015
Electronic Publication Date: 24-Feb-2015
Citation: Hopcraft, J. Grant C., Mduma, Simon A.R., Borner, Markus, Bigurube, Gerald, Kijazi, Alain, Haydon, Daniel T., Wakilema, William, Rentsch, Dennis, Sinclair, A.R.E., Dobson, Andrew P., Lembeli, James Daudi. (2015). Conservation and economic benefits of a road around the Serengeti. Conservation Biology, 29 (3), 932 - 936. doi:10.1111/cobi.12470
DOI: doi:10.1111/cobi.12470
ISSN: 0888-8892
Pages: 932 - 936
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Conservation Biology
Version: Author's manuscript

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