Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Saving Tanzania's Serengeti National Park

Animal Migration

Herd of African Elephants at Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. “Highly organized international
criminals raid the park to harvest ivory from the elephants,” NatGeo reports.
Photo Credit: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen, 2012
Source: Wikipedia

An article, by Andrew Keegan, in National Geographic says that more has to be done to save the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, an important area for land animals now threatened by human development and profiteers.

Keegan writes:
Serengeti National Park in Tanzania is home to the largest migration of land animals on the planet: More than two million mammals roam its 11,500 square miles (30,000 square kilometers). But like so many natural areas in today's world, the park is threatened by deforestation, poaching, and other concerns. 
Primatologist Jane Goodall, renowned for her work with chimpanzees in the Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania, is now helping to apply lessons learned in the Gombe to the much larger Serengeti park. (Read "Being Jane Goodall" in National Geographic magazine.) In July, her organization, the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI), in partnership with others, launched a project to ensure the future of the Serengeti's ecosystem, including its vast herds of wildebeests and zebras, and the lions that prey on them. (Related: "The Short Happy Life of the Serengeti Lion.")
Goodall, an Explorer-in-Residence Emeritus at National Geographic, talked to us about the beauty and importance of the Serengeti, and how JGI is working to protect and preserve the park for generations to come.  [Goodall says]: For me, the Serengeti is one of the seven wonders of the world. Nowhere have I felt more strongly the essence of the Africa of my childhood dreams. It is the last intact, fully functioning savanna wilderness ecosystem in the world. Vast herds of zebra and wildebeest migrate north from their calving grounds in the southern part of the ecosystem in February to the [Masai Mara National Reserve] of Kenya for the dry-season months of July and August. The largest herds of savanna elephants in Africa roam its grasslands.
Goodall is right, and I applaud her and her Institute’s efforts at helping local villagers set up programs such as family planning and micro-credit initiatives to better their lives, including improving sanitation and the water supply. She will have a hard time, however, convincing the leaders of the importance of maintaining such national parks, to give more financial resources to fight, say, illegal poaching done by international criminal organizations. Not when money is made to turn a blind eye.

This raises the issue of why deforestation and illegal poaching is taking place; some has to do with a cultural way of life, but a good part of the human activity has to do with survival in an economy that cannot provide sufficient jobs for its citizens. This is the larger question, the so-called elephant in the room. Although some efforts are currently being done, including satellite-tracking technologies to monitor herd movements and the presence of poachers, more is required to save the Serengeti from human activity.

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You can read the rest of the article at [NatGeo]