Tanzanian government to implement hydropower project in Selous Game Reserve

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The Tanzanian government had announced its plan to build a mega-hydropower plant inside Selous Game Reserve – one of the largest conserved wildlife parks in Africa.

The government is now implementing the construction of the 2,100-Megawatt power plant inside the Selous Game Reserve, the second largest wildlife park in Africa after Mudumu National Park in Namibia.

Energy Minister Medard Kalemani said the government of Tanzania is finalizing the process of securing a contractor to implement the controversial mega hydropower project at Stiegler’s Gorge on Rufiji River in Selous Game Reserve.

He said it this week, shortly after a meeting with a section of cabinet ministers, which deliberated the best options to build the hydro-power generation station at Stiegler’s Gorge.

Kalemani said the process is currently at an advanced stage and, within a short period, the ministry will announce the contractor awarded the tender for the project.

Tanzanian President John Magufuli also assured international organizations that the hydropower project will improve the Selous Game Reserve’s eco-system.

But conservation analysts fear that construction of the mega-power generation plant at Stiegler’s Gorge would frustrate donors who had injected big sums of money to protect the wildlife and nature in the Selous, which has been heavily damaged by poachers.

They fear that the Stiegler’s Gorge hydropower generation plant would encourage industrial activities in northern parts of the park, famous for wildlife concentration.

German government through Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) and the WWF are key donors to the conservation of Selous Game Reserve through anti-poaching programs.

Larger than Switzerland, Denmark or Ireland, the Selous Game Reserve is the second largest wildlife protected area in Africa, and the ‘wildest’ area in the world.

Attractive for photographic safaris, Selous Game Reserve is a unique wildlife sanctuary by its rivers and lakes, which make it one of the best watered protected areas in Africa. Rufiji River, the largest and longest river in Tanzania cuts across the Selous Game Reserve.

Famous for its crocodile population and big school of hippos, Rufiji River provide water to most parts of Selous Game Reserve. Evening and early morning boat excursions along its course, is the other tourist activity inside the Reserve.

Selous Game Reserve is one among seven recognized World Heritage Sites in Tanzania. The rest are Mount Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Serengeti National Park, Kilwa Ruins, Rock Paintings in Kondoa and Zanzibar Stone Town.

It was named in honor of Frederick Courtney Selous, an Englishman whose knowledge of the African bush has entered the stuff of legends.

From 1871, Selous spent 40 years developing his intimate knowledge of the wilderness and served as the Great White Hunter for names as large as Theodore Roosevelt.