Tanzania mulls power project on world heritage site amid criticism

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Tanzania mulls power project on world heritage site amid criticism

In Summary


  • Conservationists say the project will cause irreversible damage to the Selous game reserve in Tanzania
  • The dam is planned for the heart of the Selous, a game reserve the size of Switzerland
  • UNESCO declared the  game reserve a world heritage site in 1982.

International conservationists have expressed concerns of Tanzania’s move to build a huge hydroelectric dam in one of Africa’s largest remaining wild areas regarded as world heritage site .

The environmentalists believe that the project will cause irreversible damage to the Selous game reserve in Tanzania.

Construction of the dam is set for the heart of the Selous, a major game reserve in the country. The reserve is home to a huge variety of species including elephants, cheetahs, giraffes and crocodiles.

While the reserve is a world heritage site, world heritage organization Unesco has been quoted as saying that the site is in danger following drop in animal numbers. The organization blames poaching for the menace.

Tanzanian president John Magufuli, has been quoted saying that he would be going ahead with the Stiegler’s Gorge dam on the Rufiji river. The dam is expected to provide 2,100MW a major boost to a country that has only 1,400MW and with population of 53million.

Tanzania mulls power project on world heritage site amid criticism
The project is being opposed because it risks endangering wildlife.

Spanning over 20,000 square miles, a land area larger than Denmark, Selous is considered one of the largest protected wild areas in Africa and is home to several wildlife species as well as an “exceptionally high variety of habitats” according to Unesco.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature says the Stiegler’s Gorge dam project is likely to have a potentially negative impact to wirldlife in the area especially the critically endangered black rhinoceros.

“The project has been a significant concern for many years now due to its potential negative impact on the world heritage site,” said conservationist Remco van Merm. Mr Merm has also raised concerns over possibility of increased risk of poaching and other illegal activities due to access to the area.

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The world heritage committee will meet in July to review the status of all their sites and it is expected that Selous game reserve will be a point of discussion. UNESCO declared the  game reserve a world heritage site in 1982.