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Call over Serengeti road plans

British conservationists have joined calls for the Tanzanian government to rethink plans to build a road through the Serengeti that could harm one of the world's great animal migrations.

The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is concerned a road bisecting the north part of the national park would disrupt the migration of two million wildebeest and zebra and hit local people through a loss of income from wildlife tourism.

The proposed road aims to meet the need to link the districts of Serengeti and Loliondo and the national road system in the east African country, and boost transport links between the coast and inland areas to benefit industry and agriculture.

But ZSL, along with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), claim those needs could be met by building a road further south, which they say would benefit more people while preserving Tanzania's top wildlife attraction.

The conservationists are concerned that a road through one of the world's most famous nature reserves would lead to a decrease in numbers of wildebeest, zebra and other species by interrupting the annual migration.

And it could cut Kenya's Masai Mara national reserve off from the migration - damaging one of the most important tourism destinations for Tanzania's northern neighbour, they said.

Professor Jonathan Baillie, director of conservation programmes for ZSL, said; "A commercial road would not only result in wildlife collisions and human injuries, but would serve to fragment the landscape and undermine the ecosystem in a variety of ways.

"To diminish this natural wonder would be a terrible loss for Tanzania and all future generations."

And Dr James Deutsch, executive director of WCS's Africa programme said: "The Serengeti is the site of one of the last great ungulate migrations left on Earth, the pre-eminent symbol of wild nature for millions of visitors and TV viewers, and a hugely important source of income through eco-tourism.

"To threaten this natural marvel with a road would be a tragedy. We implore the Tanzanian government - known around the world for its commitment to conservation - to reconsider this proposal and explore other options."

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