3. We are all a part of nature

We need to work together to conserve nature.

People have lived in harmony with animals in the Serengeti. It was after all the Maasai people named it the Serengeti.

Professor Borner did not think about the people who had lived in the Serengeti at first, but he came to realize that he would not be able to save the animal alone. He realized he would need to work with them.

Professor Borner asked them to join with him in the project to protect the wild animals.

Prof. Borner with Masai People (Around 1994)

Prof. Borner with Masai People (Around 1994)

Traditional African beliefs are closely connected to nature, and are also similar to the concepts of modern-day nature conservation. However, he realized that he would not be able to ask them to cooperate with the project simply by explaining that wild animals are precious. He believed it was necessary to clearly show the local people the benefit of protecting wild animals.
He decided to ask local people to take responsibility for the rights of animals and land around the national park. The people did not, however, feel that the animals had rights. Even when poachers came to kill the animals, they didn't seem to care at all. However, after they understood that the animals were an important resource for tourism, they worked hard to stop the poaching.

Tanzania lacks some things that other countries take for granted, but all Tanzanians are very proud of their national parks. Their hope is to protect this vast nature and pass it down to their children and grandchildren.


Plan to build a freeway through the Serengeti

Serengeti National Park encountered its biggest problem in 2011 in the form of a plan to build a road connecting Lake Victoria in the Serengeti's western part to northeastern Tanzania. This road would run through the middle of Serengeti National Park.

Serengeti National Park

The project would require fences to be built on both sides of the freeway to prevent animals from wandering onto the road. Gnus and zebras migrate in the dry season to seek water, but the fences would block their movement. The 1,500,000 gnus drop a tremendous amount of excrement while moving, which serves to fertilize the soil; and they eat large amounts of grass, which reduces the occurrence of natural fires. Young seedlings are trampled, but grow into new forests. The gnus and zebras also become food for the carnivores higher up on the food chain. Gnus play an extremely important role in the ecosystem of the Serengeti. If their survival were jeopardized, the nature of the Serengeti would be greatly damaged.

Professor Borner and his coworkers were against the plan to build the road from the standpoint of nature conservation. However, while the Government of Tanzania was enthusiastic about nature conservation, politicians were not always willing to listen to the conservationists. Economic growth and nature conservation sometimes come into conflict. Professor Borner understood that the road would make people's lives more convenient, but the problem was that the road would run through the middle of the park.
Professor Borner and his coworkers decided to take another approach. First, they used the Internet to raise awareness around the world about the situation in the hope that other countries would express their objection to this plan to the Government of Tanzania.

In addition, they checked the area around the Serengeti to find a better route. The Maasai people have lived around the original route, which runs through the middle of the Serengeti. However, they do not hunt or farm, so the road would not be of use to them.

Srengeti National Park

If the route could be shifted to the south of the Serengeti, where there were many farms, it would be convenient for both the transport agricultural products and for children going back and forth to school. This would be economically much better than the original plan. Professor Borner continued explaining this to the Government of Tanzania, and finally they agreed to change the route.

Professor Borner was engaged not only in animal conservation, but also in communicating with people, asking people in the Serengeti for their cooperation, asking government officials to understand the situation that national parks faced, talking with journalists, artists, and researchers. He said, "We are all a part of the ecosystem. We sometimes cause destruction, but sometimes find solutions."


Prof. Markus Borner