A $3bn logging project in the Unesco World Heritage Site, Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania, has led to the closure of the luxury Azura Selous game lodge on the banks of the Great Ruaha River.

The lodge’s management team say in a statement that a team of loggers recently arrived in the area surrounding Azura Selous to start clearing the area in preparation for the flooding that will occur when the proposed hydropower dam at Stieglers Gorge is built.

The government has advised Azura to move the camp, and it has consequently closed. “We have obviously raised this issue with the Selous Game Reserve Management, and anyone else in authority that we can approach, as this clearing of trees is totally premature. In the studies we have seen, it is envisaged the proposed dam will take more than three years to build – from when funding has been obtained which it has not as yet – and another several years to flood the area, so there is no need to disturb us in this way now. However, our complaints have sadly had no impact. The logging has commenced and the government has advised us to move our camp,” commented Azura in the statement.

Azura Selous was made up of 12 luxury deluxe villas spread along the banks of one of the reserve’s most scenic rivers, allowing for an intimate and secluded safari experience. Each spacious, part-solid and part-tented villa showed off views of the exquisite landscape as well as the wildlife that considered this stretch of the river their local watering hole.