Community involvement in tourism pays off in Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Conservation Area

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Ngorongoro Conservation Area in northern Tanzania stands as a model
example of the place in the world where local communities are fully

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Ngorongoro Conservation Area in northern Tanzania stands as a model
example of the place in the world where local communities are fully
involved in tourism development, sharing the land and tourist
resources with conservation custodians.

Ngorongoro is a homeland for Maasai pastoralists and the
hunter-gatherer, Datoga and Hadzabe indigenous people. It is one of
the most-visited wildlife parks in Tanzania, attracting 647,817
tourists each year.

The multiple land-use system is one of the earliest to be established
in the world and is emulated across the globe as a means of
reconciling human development and natural resources conservation, said
the Chief Conservator for Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, Dr.
Freddy Manongi.

Some 87,000 people, mostly the Maasai pastoralists living inside the
conservation area, take care of livestock as their economic
activity. But the increase of population and need for more pastures
had attracted the conservation authority to involve the Maasai
communities to establish cultural tourist sites in their localities.

Special Maasai homesteads (kraals) have been developed for cultural
tourism activities inside the wildlife conservation area. The Maasai
communities are now benefitting directly on charges they get from
tourists visiting the kraals to experience the tunes of local Maasai
songs, African folklore, and purchase of Maasai artifacts.

The conservation authority had set six Maasai kraals or bomas and
educated the local communities on best ways of welcoming and honoring
visitors who pay a call to the kraals.

Among these cultural kraals are Seneto, Irkeepus, Loongooku, and Kimba
which have all been developed into full cultural tourist sites.
Visitors are welcomed to learn and enjoy Maasai traditional dances,
customs, and folklores.

Revenue collected from these cultural sites and community campsites
are directly handled to the Pastoral Council for distribution to
respective communities.

As of last year, some US$100,000 was collected from cultural bomas or kraals and US$300,000 was collected from shared tourist campsites shared by the Maasai communities.

Through benefit sharing initiatives, the conservation area stands a
good example of a place on this planet where natural foes – humans and
wild animals – are living as permanent friends.

Covering 8,292 square kilometers of wildlife conserved area, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is the only place in Tanzania where guns
are not much needed to protect elephants and rhinos.

A Directorate of Conservation and Community Development has been
established by the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority to oversee
and work directly with local communities living inside the
conservation area and its neighboring communities.

The local Maasai Pastoralists Council was established in 1994 and
gazetted on June 23, 2000 under Government Notice No. 234 of 2000,
to oversee and coordinate a full participation of resident pastoral
communities in matters related to wildlife conservation and
development within the area.

Having seven administrative wards, the Pastoral Council has
representative members drawn from all walks of life which include the
elected councilors from each of the seven wards, spescial seats for women councilors (two of them), women representative from each ward, youth representative from each ward, and traditional leaders’ representatives from each ward.

The Pastoral Council has an office which is led by a manager assisted
by an administrative officer, accountants, and pastoral ward

Ngorongoro Conservation Area, in collaboration with the Pastoral
Council, implements various development activities mainly by involving
communities through various meetings, extension programs run by the
pastoral development section, and attending various development and ad-hoc meetings convened to deliberate any burning issues to be addressed.

Projects implemented by the Conservation Authority in collaboration
with the Pastoral Council by last year amounted to over US$1 million, all directed to support local communities in various social services

Since conservation is a spiritual endeavor, the same spirit should be
built to involve communities during setting up management plans of
these Pastoral Councils so that some specific benefits to be drawn
from protected areas at times of need are properly defined,
Conservators said.

Also, the benefits accrued from tourism should reach communities in
terms of community-based project support so that the spirit of
conservation is kept alive within communities residing within or along
the wildlife protected area.

Standing as a good modal of wildlife conservation for the benefits of
tourism in Africa, Ngorongoro Conservation Area has shown a way to
other nature-protected areas on the African continent. Travel
philanthropist and humanitarian support in the area stand as case
studies to be emulated in other wildlife parks in Africa.

Through these collaborative initiatives, Tanzania and the rest of
Africa would manage to stop conflicts and creating peaceful
environment which is conducive for responsible tourism development and
wildlife conservation.

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Editor in chief is Linda Hohnholz.