Information was confirmed overnight that UNESCOs World Heritage Committee 36th meeting in Russias St. Petersburg has granted permission to the Tanzanian government to reduce the size of the Selous Game Reserve to exclude an area earmarked for Uranium mining.
Celebrated by official Tanzania as a victory of sorts it immediately brought environmental pressure groups to the forefront once again demanding that no mining should take place in the ecologically sensitive area until such time that all possible safeguards, no matter the cost, be introduced to ensure that neither ground water sources nor rivers downstream will be contaminated by what they say is a highly toxic process.
Tanzanias Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Ambassador Khamis Kagesheki, went on record to state that the area now excised from the worlds largest game reserve is a mere 200 square kilometres or less than 0.8 percent of the overall size of the Selous and was well removed from present tourism activities nor foreseen in planning maps to ever feature as much more than a peripheral buffer zone.
He also went on to say, according to a report from Dar es Salaam sent in overnight, that the Tanzanian government would insist on the latest environmental safeguards to be implemented by mining companies to avoid any lasting damage to the environment or impact, as has been suggested, on the water sources on which populations as well as wildlife depend.
The Selous is Tanzanias largest wilderness area but hardly tapped by tourism as yet and was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982, when founding father Mwalimu Julius Nyerere committed the country to forever respect the natural resources and in particular the national parks and reserves like the Serengeti and the Selous, the former also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and controversially under assault by the government of the day intent to build a highway across key migration routes. Named after Sir Frederick Selous, how fought against the Germans during World War 1 in Tanganyika, the Selous has of late also been in the negative headlines for a sharp rise in elephant poaching as well as attempts to convert the scenic Stieglers Gorge in the core tourism area of the reserve into a massive hydroelectric dam and adjoining lake, considered by conservationists and environmental experts as potentially changing the fabric of the reserve and its game populations forever, and not in a good way.
No application to UNESCO has been made though for those plans, and a regular source from Paris has already indicated that while the Uranium mining area excision was approved as it was in a remote and very peripheral area of the Selous, no such positive decision could be expected for a core tourism and conservation area to be used for power generation, lest the reserve lose its status.
The Minister was also sharply critizised by conservationists when he cited Germany and Japan as examples of safe use of nuclear energy, as it seems to have escaped him that Japan suffered last year of one of the worst nuclear fallout disasters and just narrowly avoided a meltdown, contaminating huge tracts of land and ocean, while German is undergoing a full transformation, moving away from nuclear power to sustainable sources of energy, intent to shut down both ageing as well as newer reactors over huge safety concerns and unsolved but growing problems over the storage of nuclear waste.
Watch this space as this saga will undoubtedly continue to dominate the debate between conservationists and developers purely interested in the total exploitation of resources with little if any inclination to protect Tanzanias natural habitats, biodiversity and the environment.
Archive for July 5th, 2012
A regular source with close links to Ethiopian Airlines has overnight confirmed rumours that the airline is now only expecting delivery of their first B787 Dreamliner, ET is Boeings African launch customer, by August this year, pushed back a month from the initially anticipated July delivery. The airline is due to receive four of their ordered 10 B787 this year and earlier indications was that the first aircraft would be delivered as scheduled after repeated delays in the past, but now August seems the more likely time frame for the continents first B787 to take to the skies over Africa.
There has been no indication at this stage that the remaining three aircraft due for delivery may also be delayed further. The B787 Dreamliner is joining the Ethiopian fleet to cater for both expansion as well as to progressively replace the ageing B767 aircraft, some of which have been retrofitted with blended winglets to reduced drag and fuel burn, crucial this year as aviation fuel prices in average remain at record highs.
No details could be obtained for this new delay, whether related to production problems or an airline internal decision.
Ethiopian will also soon launch a new service to South America, namely to Sao Paulo, upstaging Kenya Airways on both scores, being the first to get the Dreamliner and the first to fly to South America. KQ is expecting their first B787 the Kenyan national airline has 9 firm orders in place right now with a further 4 options by March 2014 and has indicated their intention to serve Sao Paulo (GRU) within their 2014/15 financial year, when deliveries of new aircraft will support further network expansion.
Watch this space as the battle for the skies over Africa keeps heating up and the two East African aviation giants pit themselves and their respective alliances, Star Alliance and SkyTeam, against each other using very similar strategies for expansion.