What began as a legal case against a highway across the Serengeti National Park turned into a significant victory for conservation jurisprudence in East Africa.
The ruling by the East African Court of Justice means that we have stalled the Serengeti highway for now. If it should rise up and actually get started, we have a way to confront it, this time with a strong legal precedent.
Moreover, this landmark decision now provides a way to take on other destructive projects, such as mining, water diversion and pollution, road construction, and airports, that would seriously threaten ecosystems shared by East African Community states, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi.
Read more on the decision here.
This is an important step for conservation in East Africa, but it cannot lay idle. East African NGO’s and legal experts must understand and use this tool to protect their natural heritage. When a threat comes up, they must be prepared and ready to act.
The Serengeti Highway – What If It Happens?
If a highway across the Serengeti should get back on the front burner and actually started, we have a way to confront it, this time with a strong legal precedent to back us up. It would most likely face an injunction by the Court.
The government of Tanzania says it will still build an all-weather gravel road along the same route. Many observers warn that a gravel road will be destructive in itself and will inevitably become a paved highway carrying more commercial traffic.
Also not addressed are roads just outside of the Park. The entire Serengeti ecosystem includes areas within the Serengeti National Park and areas outside. Wildlife migration takes place in both areas, and paved roads in migration areas outside the park will have an impact on the migration. See more here.