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The East African : June 23rd 2014
6 EACJ TERMED THE CONSTRUCTION “UNLAWFUL” The EastAfrican NEWS JUNE 21-27,2014 Widesp≥ead poaching puts Selous national pa≥k on Unesco list By MBASHIRU KATARE Special Correspondent UNESCO HAS put Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve on the list of endangered World Heritage sites because of widespread poaching. The animal population at the 50,000-square-kilometre park has dwindled significantly since it was listed as a Heritage Site in 1982. Unesco’s annual World The road would have had serious negative effects on the park’s animals. Picture: File Win for conservationists as court stops Serengeti road Tanzania pe≥manently ≥est≥ained f≥om const≥ucting bitumen ≥oad ac≥oss wo≥ld-famous national pa≥k By JOHN MBARIA Special Correspondent T anzania has been barred from constructing a road across the Serengeti National Park by the East African Court of Justice. The judges permanently restrained Tanzania from putting up the road, terming the construction plan “unlawful”. However, in a brief state- ment reacting to the ruling, the Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Lazaro Nyalandu, said the decision did not mean anything to Tanzania “because the government had long decided not to build the road across the Serengeti”. The ruling — in a case in- stituted by the Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW) in 2010 — affirms the East African Community Treaty’s role in protecting the region’s environment from injurious actions of member states. The Kenyan non-govern- mental organisation had argued that the famous Serengeti ecosystem was an invaluable site that deserved full protection. The NGO said it feared that by deciding to put up the road, Tanzania was removing itself from its Unesco obligations with respect to the Serengeti. Unesco declared Serengeti a world heritage site of outstanding universal value. It argued that a road going through the park would have serious negative effects on its environment. It also argued that the herds of animals in the park were a trans-boundary resource. The NGO backed its deci- sion to go to court with Article 30(1) of the EAC Treaty, which gives individuals and organisations the right to refer to the court matters that they feel are unlawful or infringe on the provisions of the Treaty. ANAW’s action followed a June 2010 announcement by a communications officer with the Tanzania National Parks that the country intended to build a 452 km road as part of Tanzania’s Transport Sector Improvement Programme. “By instituting a perma- nent injunction, the court, in essence, ruled that the con- struction of the road as was planned by Tanzania was in violation of the Treaty as far as the protection of the Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem is concerned,” said Saitabao Ole Kanchory, the lawyer who represented ANAW. Kahindi Lekalhaile, a wild- life scientist based in Nairobi, said a road through the park would have interfered with the ecosystem. During the case, some people termed the action by ANAW as interfering with Tanzania’s sovereignty. However, ANAW’s execu- tive director Josphat Ngonyo said the organisation respected Tanzania’s sovereignty, besides recognising its need for national development. “By taking the matter be- fore EACJ, ANAW was protecting a resource that would be of future benefit not only to Tanzanians but also the entire humanity,” said Mr Ngonyo. The ruling confirmed an “By taking the matter before EACJ, ANAW was protecting a resource that would be of future benefit.” Josphat Ngonyo, ANAWS earlier win by ANAW following an appeal by Tanzania’s Attorney General, who claimed that the Court did not have jurisdiction over such matters. His case was thrown out by EACJ’s appellate division on October 19, 2011, with the court ruling that the EACJ had the mandate to hear and decide on the case. “If the judges had given Tanzania the go-ahead to construct the road, the action would have adversely affected the movement of millions of animals particularly wildebeest and zebra, which undertake an annual migration,” said John Kuloba, an COURT RULING The ruling confirmed an earlier win by ANAW following an appeal by Tanzania’s Attorney General, who claimed that the Court did not have jurisdiction over such matters. His case was thrown out by EACJ’s appellate division on October 19, 2011, with the court ruling that the EACJ had the mandate to hear and decide on the case. But those against the ruling said it would mostly affect the Maasai people who had hoped the road would open up their land to the nearby towns. environmental impact assessment expert who had presented a witness statement during the proceedings. Mr Kuloba also said that by restraining Tanzania, the EACJ judges had contributed to maintaining Serengeti’s ecological integrity, besides protecting a resource shared between Kenya and Tanzania But Samuel Nangiria, co- ordinator of Ngorongoro NGOs’ network, was not pleased with the ruling, which, he said, would mostly affect the Maasai people who had hoped the road would open up their land to the nearby towns. “The decision will affect us. Residents of Loliondo and Mugumu don’t have good roads to access nearby towns,” he said. Additional reporting by Erick Kabendera The national park’s wildlife such as elephants face danger from poachers. Picture: File Heritage Committee meeting in Doha, Qatar held between June 15-25, called on the world community, including ivory transit and destination countries, to support Tanzania in the fight against poaching. The country has been ac- cused of doing little to confront poaching gangs and their financiers. Putting the game reserve on the list of endangered World Heritage sites is meant to create awareness both locally and internationally on the problems facing the reserve. Selous Game Reserve is renowned for its populations of elephant, black rhinos, cheetah, giraffe, hippopotamus and crocodile, among other species. World Heritage Com- mittee is responsible for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention and it defines the use of the World Heritage Fund as well as allocating financial assistance upon requests from state parties. It has the final say on whether a property is inscribed on the World Heritage List. At the same meeting, Tanzania’s historical ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara were removed from the list of endangered sites, ending 10 years of uncertainty. The renowned historical sites were put on the World Heritage sites in 2004, because of physical deterioration and decay leading to the collapse of their historical and archaeological structures. The World Heritage Com- mittee found that management and safeguarding of the ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara had improved enough to remove them from the endangered list. Meanwhile, as poaching continues to pose a serious challenge to the wildlife in Tanzania, new measures to rescue the country’s wildlife have seen the international community donate funds and equipment like helicopters and vehicles. This month, Tanzania’s efforts to fight poaching received a boost of Tsh8.6 billion worth of equipment from Howard G Buffett Foundation to be used in conserving the country’s national parks. The foundation was started by one of the world’s richest businessmen Warren Buffet. The Minister for Natu- ral Resources and Tourism Lazaro Nyalandu said the assistance marked an important milestone in the nation’s efforts toward curbing poaching. Among the things Howard G Buffett Foundation will provide is one R44 jumbo jet and the construction of dormitories for Pasiansi Wildlife Training Institute in the lake zone at a cost of Tsh2.28 billion, which can accommodate 300 students.
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