Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Great African Animal Migration in Danger

The television program 60 minutes broadcast a section on the great migration which makes the round trip between the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, a World Heritage Site, and the Maasai Maru National Park in Kenya, a tentatively listed candidate for a World Heritage Site. Millions of animals make the migration each year, the last large scale migration of large animals in the world.

The main artery of the region across which the migration takes place is the Mara River. The program describes the threat that this river will begin to dry up for a part of each year due to the changes in land use in its catchment area. If it were to do so, it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of animals involved in the migration would die and the migration would no longer be possible.

Were the animal populations to plummet, the entire ecology of these two national parks would be irrevocably harmed.

The program also describes the difficult lives of native peoples in the region who are unwilling to give up their hopes for better lives to save national parks that they have never seen. They are intransigent before the efforts to keep them from clearing and farming wild areas.

It also shows a successful effort by an non-profit organization to encourage Maasai people in a region of some 400 square miles to sustainably manage their livestock and grazing areas.

One wonders whether the world heritage represented by these parks can be saved for much longer, and whether there is anything that UNESCO and the community supporting UNESCO's World Heritage Convention can to to help.

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