As Tanzania's Selous Game Reserve gets split in half, Nat Geo highlights their favourite national parks - including Kruger

2019-08-02 14:54 - Gabi Zietsman
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National parks and conservation areas are important sites that protect the last wild Edens of our planet and the animals that take refuge in them, falling under the protection of governments.

But sometimes these institutions fail these protected areas in the face of progress and the needs of people struggling with a severe lack of resources. 

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The Tanzanian president recently inaugurated the start of a hydroelectric dam project that will halve the famous Selous Game Reserve - a World Heritage Site - which is set to triple Tanzania's current hydropower energy grid.

It will be built in Stiegler's Gorge over the Rufiji River, and according to the Independent it will entail chopping down 2.6 million trees and the flooding of an area of about 1 200 square kilometres. President John Magufuli however noted that it will take up only 3% of the total reserve.  

Conservation stakeholders have been vehemently opposing the project, as it will destroy habitats important to black rhinos and elephants, as well as potentially affect communities living downstream who depend on the river's sustenance. 

One of the biggest opponents has been the IUCN alongside Unesco, claiming that there are many issues with the environmental impact assessment submitted and that the reserve will potentially lose its World Heritage status. 

“It would cut the heart out of the Selous reserve, with catastrophic impacts on the site’s wildlife and habitats,” said Peter Shadie, of the IUCN’s World Heritage Programme to the Independent.

READ MORE ABOUT SELOUS: Drinking champagne in a fenceless Tanzanian lodge where lions roam around your villa

But as one national park loses a part of itself, National Geographic praised 20 others from around the world, listing their favourites that exude natural beauty from their masterful landscapes to the animals and plants that have managed to find a home protected against the onslaught of human expansion.

And a South African stalwart made it onto the list - Kruger National Park! It was selected for its Big Five inhabitants, diverse ecosystems, the fact that you can self-drive and the many (affordable) accommodation options throughout the park.

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If what's happening in the Selous is making you sad, take comfort that these other 11 parks are still being protected by its custodians. See the rest of the list here.

Uluru-kata Tjuta National Park

Country: Australia

Biggest attraction: The red Uluru, which will see a ban on hiking it coming into effect in October 2019.

Yellowstone National Park

Country: US

Biggest attraction: Hot water spewing from the depths of the earth, it's home to half of the world's geysers.

Los Glaciares National Park

Country: Argentina

Biggest attraction: Moving glaciers abound in this park, including the Petito Moreno glacier. 

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Etosha National Park

Country: Namibia

Biggest attraction: Animals are incredibly prolific and easy to spot in this park, with easily accessible roads.

Cinque Terre National Park

Country: Italy

Biggest attraction: This park protects not only coastlines, but it also preserves churches, villages and monasteries.

Guilin and Lijiang River National Park

Country: China

Biggest attraction: From hills to cliffs to caves, the best way to explore is via river cruise.

SEE: SAA adds new direct route to China 

Serengeti National Park

Country: Tanzania

Biggest attraction: By far the most famous sight to see is the annual wildebeest migration.

Fiordland National Park

Country: New Zealand

Biggest attraction: Water is an important feature in this park - from waterfalls to lakes - set against stunning fjords as backdrops.

Swiss National Park

Country: Switzerland

Biggest attraction: The majestic Swiss Alps surrounded by alpine forests is like no other in the world.

WATCH: Taking a ride through the Swiss Alps in the Ferrari of cable cars 

Haleakala National Park

Country: Hawaii

Biggest attraction: The park surrounds the dormant volcano of the same name, and a sunrise or sunset hike is a must.

Iguazu National Park

Country: Brazil and Argentina

Biggest attraction: The spectacular waterfalls were used as the unreal backdrop in Black Panther

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