African reserve threatened by dam
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.