The History Of The Ngorongoro Conservation Area : The Ngorongoro Crater is frequently referred to as one of the world’s wonders or Africa’s Eden. But what exactly is it? What is its location? And why is it worthwhile to go? The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is located in northern Tanzania and is part of the Serengeti ecosystem in the country’s Crater Highlands. This area was discovered in the late 1800s by the Austrian explorer Oscar Baumann, and it was exploited in various ways until the British established the Serengeti National Park in 1951, which included what is now the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, protecting it from overexploitation and intensive poaching.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area was officially established in 1959, and since then it has been regarded not only as a place where nature, as defined by flora and fauna, is protected but also as a place where indigenous populations’ rights are protected, albeit with some restrictions in order to maintain ecosystem balance.
The main goals are basically three: promoting natural resource conservation, protecting native interests, and, last but not least, encouraging ecotourism. All of this is intended to be achieved in accordance with the needs of all without negative consequences, a balance that was difficult to establish and maintain but without which it would not have been possible to continue.
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area was designated a World Heritage Site in 1979 and was added to the list of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves in 2010; it was also designated a Cultural Conservation Area in 2010.
However, the history of this area dates back much further: the Ngorongoro Conservation Area is home to one of the world’s most important archaeological sites, the Olduvai Gorge.
There was a lake here millions of years ago, the banks of which were covered with successive layers of volcanic ash generated by the many volcanoes active in the area at the time.
Strong seismic activity began to create deep rifts in the sedimentary rocks that had been layered for hundreds of thousands of years, revealing the different layers in the walls of the gorge as a result.
When archaeologists and geologists began to focus their attention on this gorge, they not only retraced the geological history of the area, but they also made an important discovery: a series of different remains of hominids and extinct animals were brought to light, allowing them to reconstruct, albeit partially, the human history over the last 3 million years and refute some previously held beliefs about human evolution.
They were able to establish that different species of hominids lived in this area at different times; initially, they were all hunters-collectors who later became cattle breeders a few thousand years ago.
WILDLIFE IN THE NGORONGORO CONSERVATION AREA
The African big five—buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion, and black rhino—are abundant in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the crater itself. It is one of the few places in Africa where you can see all five of the big five on a single day’s safari. The Ngorongoro Crater has breathtaking views and is teeming with wildlife. On Lake Magadi, you can see a variety of birds, including flamingos and great white pelicans.
NGORONGORO CONSERVATION AREA: PREMIER ATTRACTIONS
Olduvai Gorge: Olduvai Gorge, one of the world’s most important paleoanthropological sites, has been useful in understanding human evolution in its early stages. It is a 48-kilometer-long, steep-sided ravine located a few kilometers from Laetoli, a significant archaeological site. Visitors frequently visit the Olduvai Gorge Monument and the Olduvai Gorge Museum.
Olmoti Crater: Olmoti Crater is part of the Crater Highlands and was formed by volcanic activity. Olmoti translates to “cooking pot” in Maasai. It is grassy and divided by a river valley, making for a lovely sight for visitors. It also serves as grazing land for Maasai cattle. Augur buzzards and Verreaux’s eagles may be seen cartwheeling around the crater. A short path leads from the crater to the Munge Waterfall, which is formed by the river cascading down the crater.
Empakai Crater: The Empakai Crater, one of the most beautiful sights in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, is also part of the Crater Highlands. The crater, formed by a collapsed volcano, now contains a deep alkaline lake that covers nearly 75% of the crater area. The deep lake, surrounded by dry evergreen forests and bushlands, paints a foreboding picture. The panorama from the crater’s rim is breathtaking, stretching from Ol Doinyo Lengai to the Great Rift Valley and Mount Kilimanjaro. Visitors frequently hike down into the crater through dense mountainous forests teeming with birds.
Ol Doinyo Lengai: Doinyo Lengai, an active volcano named by the Maasai, translates to “Mountain of God.” While the name and the volcano itself convey a sense of immense power, this is not the volcano’s most notable feature. The 10,000-foot-tall volcano is the world’s only active volcano that spews carbonatite lava when other volcanoes spew silica. Whereas silica volcanoes erupt at temperatures ranging from 1100 to 1200 degrees Celsius, carbonatite lava, such as Doinyo Legnai, has been observed to erupt at temperatures ranging from 480 to 590 degrees Celsius. Except for a few nights, the lava appears gray and black due to the cool temperatures.
WHEN TO VISIT NGORONGORO CONSERVATION AREA
The Ngorongoro Crater can be visited all year. There are certain benefits to visiting the Ngorongoro Crater during each season that may help you decide when it is the best time to visit. The lush scenery that blankets the crater will dazzle you during the wet season, while the wildlife will be easier to spot during the dry season.
THE HISTORY OF NGORONGORO CONSERVATION AREA IN SUMMARY
ü Oscar Baumann is regarded as the first explorer to visit the Ngorongoro Crater in 1892.
ü Adolph and Friedrich Siedentop, two German ranchers, arrived in the region in 1899 and became the first landowners and ranchers.
ü The Siedentop brothers fled their home during the outbreak of World War I in 1916.
ü Sir Charles Ross, a well-known big-game hunter, visited the area with T. A. Barns and Major A. Radcliffe Holmes in 1921. Despite the fact that Sir Charles owned the land, he allowed it to deteriorate. In Tanzania, the first game preservation ordinance was passed the same year, restricting hunting activities to permit holders only.
ü Ngorongoro Crater was designated a complete reserve in 1928, making hunting illegal on the grounds.
ü Serengeti National Park was established in 1951 following the implementation of the National Park Ordinance of 1948, which caused some problems with the area’s tribes, primarily the Maasai.
ü Due to these ongoing issues, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area was separated from the park in 1959. The Maasai tribe was then relocated to the Ngorongoro Crater area.
ü 1976: The Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority is established, which has since governed the park.
ü Ngorongoro Conservation Area was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
ü The Wildlife Conservation Act of 2009 took legal steps to ensure that traditional pastoralists were removed from the land.