On its June 2014 session, the World Heritage Committee (“WHC”) put the Selous Game Reserve on the list of endangered World Heritage sites. We had reported repeatedly about the conflict uranium exploration and plans for uranium mining as well as other exploration activities in the area have caused.
In June 2014, the WHC reacted to the ongoing massive poaching which has reduced the elephant population by 90% (!) since the inscription of Selous into the list of World Heritage sites, with at least 10.000 elephants killed / poached within the last few years.
Reports to the UNESCO WHC had always pointed out the impact of exploration activities which also include building of (dirt) roads and cutting “lines” into the forests, making access easier for poachers.
Sources also point out that the uranium mining issue plays a role in the WHC’s decision:
“The source then continued with other issues negatively impacting on the Selous’s status with UNESCO when saying: ‘Then there is the issue of Uranium mining. Even if the government degazettes these two or three hundred square kilometres to make mining legal the impact on the game reserve’s water sources and contamination by dust will still be there. Uranium is a toxic substance and whatever is dug up and processed will remain above ground and when it rains the toxins will reach the ground water and when it is dry the wind will blow the toxic dust across the reserve’ in reference to plans to have large scale mining of Uranium take place.”
The WHC itself states:
“The legal changes in 2009 permitting the exploration and extraction of uranium, oil and gas in game reserves, and apparently granted licenses overlapping the property, are clearly incompatible with its World Heritage status.”