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Africa Month: Piecing Together Tanzania's Fractured Wildlife Corridors

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One of the primary yet generally overlooked issues facing wildlife around the globe is man's willful destruction of natural wildlife corridors.

Due to human expansion -- the building of farms, ranches, cities, towns and roads -- the normal routes by which wildlife get from one place to another are being disrupted.

Perhaps nowhere in the world is this issue more contentious than in Tanzania, where President Kikwete is planning to build a highway through the Serengeti, a project that will effectively put an end to the longest and oldest remaining overland wildlife migration.

Kikwete has even rejected an offer by the World Bank to fund an alternate southern route for the highway, which would not threaten the Great Migration. (Change.org is hosting a petition trying to stop this plan.)

But though his ill-conceived plan has dominated the recent environmental and conservation news coming out of the country, there is another, much smaller project that is trying to do the exact opposite.

Last year, the African Wildlife Foundation launched the innovative mixed-used Manyara Ranch, which takes advantage of the region's thriving tourist industry to help support the reconnecting of a critical conservation landscape in northern Tanzania.

Linking Lake Manyara National Park with the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Manyara Ranch presents a successful new paradigm in the area of market-based conservation initiatives.

"Protected areas like national parks are important areas for wildlife, but if the land surrounding them is not properly conserved, they risk becoming isolated and unviable for wildlife," according to AWF's website.

"Lake Manyara National Park and Tarangire National Park are 40 kilometers apart. About ten years ago, the migration route that connects them -- known as the Kwakuchinja corridor -- began to disappear. Habitat fragmentation and degradation such as this have become the greatest threats to conservation in northern Tanzania."

And now, the ranch has "added an exciting new way to experience the elephants, lions, zebras, and other wildlife that have returned to the area thanks to AWF's integrated conservation program: horseback riding," according to an AWF email.

"Housed in spacious lion-proof stables out of view of the main camp, the horses are close enough for riders to head out at sunrise and return to camp at sunset."

Humans and animals living together in harmony? President Kikwete, please take note.

 

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Reynard Loki is a New York-based artist, writer and editor. He is the environment and food editor at AlterNet.org, a progressive news website. He is also the co-founder of MomenTech, a New York-based experimental production studio whose projects (more...)
 

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