Wildebeest key to saving the Serengeti | Global Ideas | DW | 27.08.2013
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Global Ideas

Wildebeest key to saving the Serengeti

More than 50 years after the Oscar-winning film “Serengeti Shall not Die” shed light on the risks facing the national park, the problems have worsened. Climate change, poaching and population growth pose new threats.

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Project goal: Protecting the ecosystem of the Serengeti, raising awareness about the threats

Biodiversity: around 3 million animals (of which 1.5 million are wildebeest) live in the Serengeti National Park. They include nearly all of eastern Africa’s large mammals including the “big five game”: the lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros.

Project size: The national park stretches over 15,000 square kilometers of land.

From antelopes to lions and zebras, millions of animals roam through the famous Serengeti National Park in Tanzania every year in search of water and food. The wildebeest has an especially sharp nose for water and is therefore considered a key figure in the park’s eco-system. But climate change has drastically altered conditions: dry seasons have become wetter and the rainy seasons dryer, wreaking havoc on savannah grass fields which are a chief source of nourishment. Now, grasses have lost nutritional value or dry up too quickly. Researchers worry that the animals might soon run out of food altogether. In addition, the towns and villages located alongside the park are growing, increasing demand for food and water. Add to that a lethal combination of increasingly daring poachers and irrigation systems – all of which are threatening to disrupt the Serengeti’s eco-system. Environmentalists and animal rights activists face a mammoth task.

A film by Inga Sieg

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