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    Richard Engel / NBC News

    Preserving the Serengeti in Tanzania

    Environmentalists say a proposed road through the preserve puts the Eden of biodiversity at serious risk.

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    Lions line a road in the Serengeti. Currently, tourists and rangers travel on dirt paths at low speed, only during daylight hours. But environmentalists say this Eden of biodiversity is at risk of total collapse as the Tanzanian government plans to build a road, for commercial trucks, straight through it. NBC News' Richard Engel recently visited the national park.

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    A giraffe eats from a tree in the Serengeti. Poachers illegally hunt the animals by putting snares in trees. Environmentalists say they worry the highway will give poachers easier access to wildlife.

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    Currently the Serengeti has a rich biodiversity of predators, herbivores, reptiles and birds. Conservationists say the proposed highway, which has strong political support in a poor country, would disrupt the ecosystem.

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    Baboons are known to be smart and can be aggressive. On the trip, one broke into a jeep, smashing a window to steal a packed lunch.

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    Wildebeest roam the Serengeti. Environmentalists say the road could stop the migration of two million wildebeest, zebra and gazelle. 27 renowned environmentalists made an appeal in Nature Magazine last September not to proceed with construction.

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    After wildebeest, zebras make up the biggest part of the Serengeti’s great migration.

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    Lions can still be hunted in Tanzania with a permit.

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    Though many animals turn their backs as humans approach, giraffes seem to like observing people.

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    A school house in a Masai village.

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    The Serengeti is said to be one of the only places in the world that looks as it did a million years ago.

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