Despite major backlash from conservationists, the Tanzanian government plans to start building a hydropower dam inside a UNESCO-protected wildlife reserve this July. More than 2.6 million trees face the chop.
The Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania is one of the last major expanses of wilderness in Africa. It’s a protectedUNESCO World Heritage Site about the size of Switzerland, and home to elephants, lions, giraffes, cheetahs and rhinos, as well as 12 percent of all endangered African wild dogs.
But the nature reserve is under threat.
Since 2014, it has been on UNESCO’s List of World Heritage in Danger, primarily because of elephant poaching. In less than 40 years, the park lost 90 percent of its elephants. But a planned hydropower dam could have an even more devastating impact.
Power generation vs. conservation
Tanzania has an electricity problem. According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), only 10 percent of households in Tanzania have access to the national grid.
To meet the country’s energy needs, the Tanzanian government is planning to build a huge hydropower dam on the Rufiji River, in the heart of the protected Selous Game Reserve.