Following a meeting earlier today between Tanzanian government ministers and a German trade mission Germany has offered to fund the construction of the controversial Serengeti Highway which is planned to cut through the southern section of a national park and cross the route of one of the last great wildlife migrations.
The meeting which led to the agreement was between Tanzanian Minister for Tourism and Natural Resources, Amb. Khamis Kagasheki and German deputy head of Mission, Mr Hans Koeppel.
As well as funding the building of the highway the Germans have also offered to fund the production of a feasibility study on the southern section of the route that will have the greatest impacts on wildlife.
This latest offer means that the Serengeti Highway is back on the international agenda after being stopped by the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) in June following a complaint by the Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW).
If the Serengeti Highway had been built to the original plans it would have seen a 30 mile section of a road cutting through the Serengeti National Park tarmaced and incorporated into the highway planned to connect Lake Victoria with coastal ports. The road in the park is currently gravel based and not suitable for the heavy commercial traffic expected on the new highway.
After the EACJ ruled against the proposed road, on the grounds it would have major impact on wildlife, the Tanzanian government agreed that the road in the park would remain gravel. They have now put forward an alternative route that is longer and passes around the southern section of the national park rather than through it.
The Serengeti is a major tourist attraction for the region and one of the highlights is the annual mass migration which sees 1.5 million animals move from the north to the south each year. The concerns with the proposed road on the original route was that wildlife would be put at risk of collision with traffic. There were also concerns that the Highways Department would put up fencing stretching for miles hindering the ability of animals to undertake the annual migration.
There is currently a feasibility study being undertaken by the Tanzanian government into the new route of the road and the German offer to finance the building of the road will be determined by the results of the study.