Most leaders don’t seem to realize just how much damage they are causing when they choose to destroy game reserves in the name of development and the negative impact they will leave behind for generations that will come after them.
One defiant and inconsiderate leader is Tanzanian President John Magufuli who has decided to sign a deal that will see a $3 billion hydroelectric power plant constructed in the Selous Game Reserve.
The Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania is one of the last major expanses of wilderness in Africa and is home to elephants, lions, giraffes, cheetahs and rhinos, as well as 12% of all endangered African wild dogs.
The protected UNESCO World Heritage Site is now under serious threat should the Tanzanian President put his signature on the deal.
“It’s absolutely horrible to imagine that in the middle of this pristine wilderness a huge dam is being built. If you’re standing in the middle of Selous now, it’s a fantastic wilderness, there is wildlife all over, and all of that would be gone… It would be a great loss for us and the generations to come,” said Johannes Kirchgatter, an officer for the Africa Program for WWF Germany.
President John Magufuli however did not name the company awarded the contract for the power plant and dam to be built in the Selous Game Reserve but government sources said that the contract would be signed with Egypt’s Arab Contractors.
Magufuli said the Tanzania was moving ahead with the project due to improved revenue collection with the 2,100 MW project expected to more than double the country’s power generation capacity.
However, the project has faced opposition from conservationists who have argued that the construction of a dam on a major river that runs through the Selous Game Reserve could affect wildlife and their habitats downstream.
The World Wildlife Fund conservation group said in a report in July last year the proposed large-scale hydropower dam puts protected areas of global importance, as well as the livelihoods of over 200,000 people who depend upon the environment at risk.
“The impact on Tanzania’s largest river would affect many ecosystem services it provides. It would affect tourism in Selous downstream in some of the most abundant wildlife areas in the game reserve,” it said.
Do you think the Tanzanian leader will sign the deal?