Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Map of the Serengiti-Ngorongoro-Masai Mara Ecosystem

The Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Northern Tanzania forms part of what is known as Serengiti-Ngorongoro-Masai Mara Ecosystem.  The area was named after the Maasai word to describe the sound of cowbells (ngoro ngoro). NCA was established in 1959 as a multiple land use area, designated to promote the conservation of natural resources, safeguard the interests of NCA indigenous residents and promote tourism. The main feature of the NCA include the Ngorongoro Crater, The Serengeti Plains that support about 2.0 millions migratory wildlife species of the Serengeti Mara-ecosystem and the catchment forest; the Northern Highland Forest Reserve. Other important features found in the NCA are the archaeological and palaeontological site located at Oldupai Gorge and the early human foot-prints that were discovered at Alaitole in Ngarusi area.


NCA is a unique protected area in the whole of Africa where conservation of natural resources in integrated with human development. The multiple land use philosophy in the area is to maintain the peaceful co-existence of human and wildlife in a natural and traditional setting. About 200 years ago the migrant Maasai arrived to the Ngorongoro Crater and colonized the area.  Their pastoral way of life allows them to live in harmony with the wildlife and environment. Today there are some 50,000 Maasai pastoralists living in the NCA with their cattle, donkeys, goats and sheep. During the rains they move out on to the open plains; in the dry season they move into the adjacent woodlands and mountain slopes. The Maasai are allowed to take their animals into the Crater for water and grazing, but not to live or cultivate there.


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