African re­serve threat­ened by dam

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Wild News -

G lobal wildlife ex­perts have re­leased a highly crit­i­cal re­port on the Tan­za­nian gov­ern­ment’s plan to flood nearly 1,000km² of one of Africa’s most im­por­tant na­ture reserves.

Con­struc­tion of a dam in Stiegler’s Gorge for a 2,100MW hy­dropower project, in the north of the 50,000km² Selous Game Re­serve, has al­ready be­gun, but the IUCN says that the gov­ern­ment has failed to prop­erly con­sider the im­pact it will have on both bio­di­ver­sity and peo­ple.

The Selous is a World Her­itage Site, but the IUCN has been scru­ti­n­is­ing man­age­ment since 2014 be­cause of high lev­els of wildlife poach­ing.

The dam on the Ru­fiji River, it says, will se­verely affect “the undis­turbed and wild char­ac­ter of the area” while neg­a­tively im­pact­ing “thou­sands or tens of thou­sands of peo­ple de­pen­dent on the river for agri­cul­ture or fish­ing.” Clear­ing of a wood­land area the size of Sur­rey has al­ready be­gun. The re­port also raises con­cerns about the re­serve’s lions, be­cause they are not listed as one of the key species in the project’s En­vi­ron­men­tal Im­pact As­sess­ment.

The Tan­za­nian gov­ern­ment says the es­ti­mated $3-6bn project will dou­ble the coun­try’s elec­tric­ity power sup­ply. En­vi­ron­ment min­is­ter Kangi Lu­gola told the Tan­za­nian par­lia­ment last year that peo­ple who op­pose the con­struc­tion project risk be­ing jailed. James Fair FIND OUT MORE IUCN as­sess­ment: bit.ly/selous­dam

Selous lion den­si­ties are high­est in the river­ine ar­eas.

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