The elevated highway of the Serengeti

Unlimited mileage on a rental car can get you a long way. It is the perfect fit for a long trek across the continent. In Africa, there is talk of a highway that may become the most spectacular piece of road ever created. The Serengeti, home to the world’s most famous wildlife migration of wildebeest and zebra that sees thousands of these creatures storm across the plains, may soon play host to a controversial elevated highway that could solve a number of problems facing the two countries that hold this wonder of nature conservation.

buffalo

Reasons for its construction

The commute from the western Lake Victoria area to the ports of Tanzania in the east has caused truckers and drivers alike to pull around for kilometres in order to get around the national parks. The stretch of road attempts to connect the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania with Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve. The Serengeti is a very clear barrier to trade and commerce for residents and the 50km road will see some of these issues addressed.

truck on road

The obvious problem

There was outrage across the world upon the proposal of a highway through wildlife’s most prized display of natural beauty and power. The destruction of this wondrous natural habitat will see the home of 10% of the world’s lions disrupted. The proposal to build a ground-level highway through the reserve has been met with clear hostility but there are others who are motivated by innovation that have taken different approaches to the problem.

A possible solution

Kenyan scientist and conservationist Richard Leakey claims that a raised highway could alleviate concerns over disrupting this beautiful and important phenomenon. The chance of road-kill would be eliminated while he says the constant vigilance and presence of people on the highway could pave the way for innovative techniques at catching poachers. Famous for burning 12 tonnes of elephant tusks in an effort to curb ivory poaching, his methods worked as the value of ivory decreased significantly. By building the highway and cutting the number of poachers down, Leakey feels that there will be a definite decrease in poverty and unemployment. It is the latter which encourages people to take up poaching.

Richard Leakey

Where to from here?

There is no easy way out of the situation. People are rightly outraged by the possible ruin of one of the earth’s most precious remaining wildlife preserves. But it is a credit to those few like Leakey who are inspired to think outside the box in order to come up with new solutions. They could pave the way for a new era of prosperity with the Serengeti highway being introduced to a new generation of young drivers. There is no doubting that poaching and poverty rack both Tanzania and Kenya. By thinking outside the box, authorities can work together with the public in order to clamp down on problems without condemning its treasured wildlife.