At 6,853 km the Nile is considered to be the longest river in the world. No doubt in times past it provided life-giving water for wildlife along its entire length, but sadly this is no longer the case. I have seen the Nile in Egypt, and was shocked by the paucity of birdlife along its shores – even in remote rural areas. In fact the Sacred Ibis that obtained its name from the ancient egyptians’ belief that it represented their god Thoth, is no longer found anywhere in Egypt, not even along the banks of the Nile.
Recently I visited the Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda, named for the dramatic falls where the entire volume of the Victoria Nile is squeezed through a chasm only 7 metres in width.
Here is a closer view from below the falls:
The Nile bisects the National Park and adjacent conservation areas for a length of 115km of what must be the last remaining pristine stretch of this magnificent river. The abundance of birdlife and wildlife along the shores and in the adjacent hills, valleys and plains is astounding.
However, oil has been discovered beneath the Victoria Nile Delta in the Murchison National Park and both the Ugandan government and Total Oil are determined to mine this oil. This delta area is essential for the many waterbirds of the area (including the rare African Shoebill) as well as the enormous herds of wildlife, like the Kob pictured above.
Of course those who stand to benefit financially from the oil assure the public that the impact will be minimal and there will not be any spillage of oil! I’m sure that I’ve heard that before and even the drilling company admits that between 300,000 & 500,000 tonnes of drilling waste will be produced.
At what cost do we obtain our energy?