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Serengeti Highway – Disaster Unfolding

BY Lisa Lindblad

October 31, 2010

In 1972,  on a street in Nairobi, I met a charming filmmaker who was heading down to the Serengeti to make a film on the life cycle of the Cheetah.  Long story short – we fell in love, and I joined him for 18 months in a mobile camp we used as a base as we followed our beloved cheetah, Brigitta, across the Serengeti Plains.

In 1989 I produced The Serengeti:  Land of Endless Space (Rizzoli Publications) and, again, in 1994 The Serengeti Migration (Hyperion Press) which aimed to teach young adults about one of the earth’s most remarkable migrations – the yearly wildebeest and zebra migration.

Serenget – in, Maa, the language of the original inhabitants of this vast and beautiful ecosystem, the Maasai- means “where the eye never ends.”  If the Tanzanian Government has its way, this will no longer be the case.  Highway 101 will bisect this vast swath of pristine country, will befoul one of the most intensively studied ecosystems on earth, will interrupt, and perhaps terminate, one of the globe’s most impressive, most functionally complex, natural movements on earth.

How can this be?

There are so many reasons why the highway would be an appalling act; to read them all here would be less cogent than to read them on the website of www.savetheserengeti.org.  They are many, and some of them, surprisingly, have less to do with saving animals than protecting people.  It is not all bleeding heart and sentiment.  There is a hugely rational argument underpinning the Serengeti’s protection.

I am a traveler, a wanderer.  I am passionate about this earth.  I came of age in the Serengeti.  I scattered the ashes of my loved one in the Serengeti.  I raised my children in the Serengeti. It has been the beginning and the middle of my life, a compass, a north star to my life’s trajectory.

The Serengeti is a cathedral, a place to worship the fine design of the earth’s workings.  And it is glorious – in its colors, its weather, its wildlife, its people who have been so marginalized over the years.

Perhaps, most simply put, the Serengeti’s magic is in allowing the eye to reach the unreachable edge..Serenget, “where they eye never ends.”

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John Derian Goes West