Photo taken on Oct. 12, 2013 shows a beautiful view in Selous Game Reserve, southeast Tanzania. Large numbers of elephants, black rhinoceroses, cheetahs, giraffes, hippopotamuses and crocodiles as well as about 550 species of birds live in this immense sanctuary, which measures 50,000 square kilometers and is relatively undisturbed by human impact. It also has a variety of vegetation zones, ranging from dense thickets to open wooded grasslands. The Selous Game Reserve was inscribed onto the world heritage list in 1982. (Xinhua/Zhang Ping)
DAR ES SALAAM, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) -- At least 50 multinational companies have expressed their bids for the construction of the Rufiji hydropower project at Stiegler's Gorge in the Selous Game Reserve, one of the largest faunal reserves of the world, located in the south of Tanzania.
President John Magufuli said in Arusha city on Saturday that the bidding has attracted 50 foreign companies after the Ministry of Energy and Minerals announced the tendering process in August this year.
A roller is perched on a branch in Selous Game Reserve, southeast Tanzania, Oct. 11, 2013. (Xinhua/Zhang Ping)
According to the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, bidders were required to have minimum average annual construction turnover of 500 million U.S. dollars calculated as certified payments received for contracts in progress and or completed within last five years.
The Selous Game Reserve covers 50,000 square kilometers with the proposed project expected to use a mere 3 percent of the area.
The project will see the construction of the largest dam in Tanzania along the Rufiji River in the Selous Game Reserve.
Once it comes to completion, the proposed power station is expected to generate 2,100 megawatts (MW) of electricity. Currently, Tanzania generates only 1,460 MW of power.
A black-winged stilt walks in Selous Game Reserve, southeast Tanzania, Oct. 12, 2013. (Xinhua/Zhang Ping)
The proposed project however has its fair share of controversies.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the world's leading conservation organization, said in a report that the project threatens an important wetland as well as the livelihoods of more than 200,000 people in impoverished areas.
The Selous, which covers nearly 50,000 square kilometers, has been under pressure from poachers who have decimated its elephant population to supply the illegal ivory market, said the WWF report.
A yellow-billed stork flies in Selous Game Reserve, southeast Tanzania, Oct. 12, 2013. (Xinhua/Zhang Ping)
The reserve is also home to the critically endangered black rhinoceros.
However, President Magufuli has insisted that the implementation of Stiegler's Gorge power project will go ahead despite criticism from various sections, including environmental conservation stakeholders.