DAR ES SALAAM (eTN) – Tanzania is marking this month a milestone anniversary on wildlife and nature conservation after half a century of the establishment of two famous tourist parks in Africa, the Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
In line with the two parks, which are unique in Africa, archaeologists are celebrating mid-this month 50 years of the discovery of the skull of the earliest man, which is believed to be the oldest in world archaeological history.
Inside Ngorongoro Conservation Area is the Olduvai Gorge, where Dr. and Mrs. Leakey found the 1.75 million-year-old remains of Australopithecus boisei (‘Zinjanthropus’) and Homo habilis which suggest that the human species first evolved in this area.
To af de vigtigste paleontologiske og arkæologiske steder i verden, Olduvai Gorge og Laetoli Footprint site på Ngarusi findes inden for Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Yderligere vigtige opdagelser kan endnu ikke gøres i området.
Serengeti National Park is undoubtedly the best-known wildlife sanctuary in the world, unequalled for its natural beauty and scientific value. With more than two million wildebeest, half a million Thomson’s gazelle, and a quarter of a million zebra, it has the greatest concentration of plains game in Africa. The wildebeest and zebra moreover form the star cast of a unique spectacular – the annual Serengeti migration.
Travelers are not the only ones who now flock to see the animals and birds of the Serengeti. It has become an important centre for scientific research. In 1959, a German naturalist, professor Bernhard Grzimek, and his son, Michael, did a pioneering work in aerial surveys of wildlife. Their resulted in the best-selling classic “Serengeti Shall Not Die” and a number of films that made the Serengeti a household name. More is now known about the dynamics of the Serengeti than any other ecosystem in the world.
The Maasai people had been grazing their livestock in the open plains which they referred to as “endless plain” for over 200 years. Serengeti covers an area of 14,763 kilometers, is as big as Northern Ireland.
With the growing awareness of the need for conservation, the Serengeti was expanded and upgraded to a national park in 1951. Eight years later, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area was established in the southeast as a separate unit, and gave the two parks their present status as leading tourist parks in Tanzania and Africa today.
The area is the starting point for one of the great “wonders of the world” called “The Serengeti annual migration.” Towards the end of May when the grass becomes dry and exhausted, wildebeest start to mass in huge armies.
Today, the Serengeti National Park, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, and the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, which is located across the border in Kenya, protect the greatest and most varied collection of terrestrial wildlife on earth and one of the last great migratory systems still intact.
The Serengeti is the jewel in the crown of Tanzania’s protected areas, which altogether make up some 14 percent of the country’s land area, a conservation record that few other countries can match.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) was annexed from Serengeti National Park in 1959 through legislative efforts. The main reasons behind the separation of two protected areas were due to irreconcilable demands between human needs (mainly the Maasai) and the needs of natural resources. The Maasai are the only human beings allowed to move freely in the conservation area with their herds of cattle.
Internationally renowned, Ngorongoro is the United Nations’ designated World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve. Ngorongoro supports high densities of wildlife throughout the year and contains the most visible population of the remaining black rhino in Tanzania. The NCA has over 25,000-plus large animals, some which being the black rhino, elephants, wildebeests, hippos, zebras, giraffes, buffaloes, gazelles and lions.
The forests on the highlands form a vital water catchments area for neighboring agricultural communities and also form the ground water base for Lake Manyara National Park on the eastern side.
The multiple land use system is one of the earliest to be established worldwide and is emulated around the world as a way of reconciling human development and natural resources conservation.
Professor Grzimek, who 50 years ago wrote and declared that “Serengeti Shall Not Die,” is resting for eternity on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater, besides his son Michael.
The two famous German conservationists are remembered this month for their outstanding contribution in the history of wildlife conservation in Tanzania and the two products the world is proud to see today–the Serengeti and Ngorongoro.