Azura Selous, a luxury game lodge situated along the banks of the Great Ruaha River in the remote Selous Game Reserve in southern Tanzania, has announced its sudden closure due to the unexpected arrival of loggers in the area.
In a newsletter sent out to various members of the travel industry, Azura Selous stated that the loggers intend to clear the area for the flooding that will occur during the construction of the hotly debated Stieglers Gorge hydropower dam along the Rufiji River.
Azura’s management team made the decision to close the lodge due to the damage and disturbance that the loggers will cause to the surrounding environment.
The Stieglers Gorge hydropower project has come under intense scrutiny from a number of wildlife organisations and activists, who are concerned that the $3 billion project will seriously affect the ecosystem of Selous Game Reserve.
According to latest news reports, seventeen Tanzanian companies have been awarded tenders to clear 1,500 square kilometres of terrain inside Selous – an estimated 2.6 million trees – to make way for the hydropower plant.
Selous Game Reserve is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered one of the largest remaining wilderness areas in Africa, covering an area of 54,600 square kilometres.
Upon completion, the plant will provide 2,100MW of electricity to a country that is currently extremely under-supplied. The plant will be designed to supply more than double the country’s power generation capacity. According to Tanzania’s Minister for Energy, Medard Kalemani, the plant is expected to completely end the country’s power woes and sustain local industries with electricity and sell the surplus power to neighbouring countries.