Tanzania has started a process to establish the Nyerere National Park in the Selous Game Reserve, a Unesco Heritage Site.

Recently, Tanzania’s President John Magufuli issued a directive to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism to begin the process of splitting the Selous Game Reserve into two wildlife sanctuaries.

Adolf Mkenda,
the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and
Tourism, confirmed the start of the project. He said the ministry would
officially table a resolution in the next parliamentary session for the
establishment of the Nyerere National Park in the Selous Game Reserve.

ministry will deploy a team of experts to the reserve to start the
re-demarcation process upon the approval of the resolution,” said

He said the re-demarcation process would be conducted in a scientific
manner to ensure it did not impact wildlife populations in the reserve,
adding that the creation of the new national park was intended to
generate substantial income through tourism.

Magufuli was speaking at the inauguration of the mega Rufiji hydropower project
in the Selous Game Reserve. He said he wanted more than half of the
existing Selous Game Reserve to be demarcated into a national park to be
named after the country’s founding president Julius Nyerere. The remaining area is expected to be used as a hunting reserve.

Tanzania is building a hydroelectric dam in one of Africa’s largest
game reserves, despite criticism from environmentalists, Unesco and the
International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) who urged Tanzania
to halt the project. IUCN condemns the project and says the Selous game
reserve risks being removed from the World Heritage Sites list.

Peter Shadie, Director of IUCN’s World Heritage
programme says: “The Selous Game Reserve is one of Africa’s biggest
World Heritage sites and, thanks to its size, it allows large-scale
ecological processes to take place without hindrance. This has become a
rarity in today’s world, where nature is increasingly fragmented.
Clearly, dividing the uniquely large Selous Game Reserve into smaller
areas would not be in the interest of the site’s ecological functions,
its integrity, or the conservation of its species.”

Shadie argues that Selous has a World Heritage status, which should
be given the highest level of national protection. The critically
important consideration for IUCN is that the construction of the
Stiegler’s Gorge dam – officially known as the Rufiji Hydropower Project
– is located inside the World Heritage Site and is likely to cause
irreversible damage to its Outstanding Universal Value. The World
Heritage Committee in early July strongly urged Tanzania to invite
without delay a mission by IUCN and Unesco’s World Heritage Centre. The
committee are still awaiting to the invitation to see what is happening
on the ground and stand ready to continue dialogue with Tanzania.

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