Tanzania had only 3 national parks in 1961 and now at 60 years of independence, there are 22 fully established national parks under the management and trusteeship of Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA). Tanzania now boasts of its milestone conservation and protection of wildlife and nature among other African countries. The national parks earn Tanzania foreign currency accrued from photographic tourism safaris, hotel concession fees, and other levies from safari companies operating in these parks.
The national parks offer biological and geographical training to Tanzania’s young generation in addition to the income for the national economy and the people of Tanzania.
Wildlife tourism attracted more than 1.5 million tourists in 2019, earning Tanzania $2.3 billion, and equivalent to nearly 17.6 percent of annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Newly gazetted national parks are Nyerere, Buring-Chato, Ibanda-Kyerwa, Rumanyika-Karagwe, Kigosi, and Ugalla. Except for Nyerere, the rest of the 5 parks offer cross-border tourism and are best for intra-Africa tourism in East Africa.
Nyerere is the largest and most protected national park in Tanzania, covering an area of 30,893 kilometers (square kilometers) and is bigger than Ruaha and Serengeti. It is the third largest in Africa.
Julius Nyerere, the first President of Tanzania, had deliberately advocated the need to establish wildlife parks and develop a national tourist base, taking into account that tourism under British colonial powers basically meant amateur hunting more than photographic safaris.
In September 1961, just 3 months before the independence of Tanzania from Britain, Nyerere together with senior political officials met for a symposium on the “Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources” to endorse a document on wildlife protection and conservation known as the “Arusha Manifesto.”
The Manifesto has since then been a milestone and a blueprint for conservation of nature in Tanzania under the trusteeship of the TANAPA.
Famous German conservationist, Professor Bernhard Grzimek, and his son, Michael, made a milestone development in the conservation of wildlife in Tanzania, producing a film documentary and a popular book titled Serengeti Shall Not Die.
Through his film and a book, Professor Grzimek opened up a tourist landscape in Tanzania and East Africa, which is mostly wildlife-based tourism that now draws hundreds of thousands of tourists from all corners of the world to visit Tanzania for wildlife safaris.
The Tanganyika National Parks Ordinance of 1959 established the organization now known as Tanzania National Parks, and the Serengeti became the first one. Currently TANAPA is governed by the National Parks Ordinance Chapter 282 of the 2002 revised edition of the Laws of the United Republic of Tanzania.
Nature conservation in Tanzania is governed by the Wildlife Conservation Act of 1974, which allows the government to establish protected areas, and outlines how these are to be organized and managed. The national parks represent the highest level of resource protection that can be provided. About 60,000 square kilometers are covered in all zones of Tanzania.
Through tourism development, TANAPA supports community projects in villages neighboring the national parks through its community responsibility program known as “Ujirani Mwema” or “Good Neighborliness.” The Ujirani Mwema initiative has shown a positive trend, bringing reconciliation between people and wild animals.
TANAPA has recognized and received various prestigious conservation, tourism, and service awards from global tourist rating organizations. Serengeti and Mount Kilimanjaro have been icons of global tourism awards which TANAPA received in recent years. The World Travel Awards (WTA) declared Tanzania’s Serengeti as Africa’s leading national park for 2021.
Serengeti has become Africa’s leading national park for 3 consecutive years in 2019, 2020 ,and 2021. It is a habitat for a variety of animals, birds, and plant species and is world famous for the wildebeest migration and its large lion population.
Balloon Safaris have been introduced to offer an aerial view of the Mount Kilimanjaro peak. TANAPA recently celebrated an exciting balloon safari anniversary complementing Tanzania tourism. Special balloon safari flights were introduced in Tanzania to give tourists visiting the East African region more options to view wildlife and Mount Kilimanjaro from a different perspective and without having to climb the highest peak in Africa.