Book ID 619
Rhoda Kangero Time Tides and life in Ngorongoro Park, 31 May 2002
Extract Author: Rhoda Kangero - TSJ
Extract Date: 31 May 2002
About three million years ago, there was another, towering land feature, said to have been much taller than Mount Kilimanjaro, which currently, is Africa’s highest peak.
This "Taller than Kilimanjaro" mountain later collapsed in great earth shaking movements to form a vast bowl (caldera) to form a crater that is now known as Ngorongoro Crater.
After being forged through the tumultuous birth of Rift Valley, today the once highest feature in Africa has now been transformed into the amazing great Ngorongoro Crater, 610 metres deep and 260 kilometres squared.
Engraved within the vast Ngorongoro National Reserve, which runs between the Rift Valley rim and Serengeti plains, the crater is the largest unbroken caldera in the world.
It is also the biggest landmark cum trade mark, for the 8,300 square kilometres of Ngorongoro conservation Authority, a home of millions species of wild animals, various land features and forests.
Chief Conservator, Emmanuel Chausi reveals that the park was officially started in 1959 to be a tourist destination, natural resources conservation area and grazing space for over 42,000 Maasai pastoralists.
This also where human life allegedly began, at the Oldupai Gorge believed to have been a home of the first human being about 1.75 million years ago.
Henry Fosbrooke was the first founder of the Ngorongoro Conservation Authority (NCA) and being a devoted environmentalist, he became the chief conservator in between 1961 and 1965 before being appointed to be the presidential advisor in the land commission.
Fosbrooke died in April 25th, 1996 aged 87 years old. Solomon Saibul who used to be a Member of Parliament in the Arusha town constituency, became the second NCA conservator in 1980.
Coincidentally, Saibul who held the post for two years, died in October 1997, a year after the death of Fosbrooke.
Anthony Mgina, who was the third conservator previously worked as the authority administration officer in between 1964 and 1980. Mgina also died in August 1997 aged 67 years old.
Professor Bernard Grzimek, conducted the first survey in the park. The German born professor is the one who came up with the idea of terming the area as the 8th Wonder of the world.
His son, Michael Grzimek died in a plane crash in Serengeti alongside his favorite monkey. Michael and his father, wrote the all time classic "Serengeti Shall Not Die."
Ngorongoro boasts 1.5 million wildebeests, about 50,000 gazelles, 260,000 zebras, over 100 lions, 400 hyenas and a vast number of large mammals such as elephants, buffaloes, hippopotamus and rhinoceros.
The crater is reported to currently have about 100 lions after the animal’s mass deaths in 1962 caused by the massive attacks of bitting flies known as Stomoxys Calcitrans. There was a repeated epidemic in the aftermath of El-Nino weather spell of 1997/1998.
Rhinoceros are apparent the fewest animals in Ngorongoro since their reproduction, according to an officer with NCA, takes rather long time.
Also, in between1970 and 1980, poachers wrecked havoc in the park by killing hundreds of rhinos, taking their tusks for sale in Asian markets.
As from 1998 to 2001, Ngorongoro National Park handled about 235,808 foreign visitors from United States of America, Spain, France, Germany and Scandinavian countries.
Local visitors, among them school pupils and students amounted to 196,368 in the four year period.
As from July this year, park fees will rise from US$ 25 charged now to US$ 30 per each foreign visitor to the park, with an additional US$ 15 to enter the crater.
However, the Tsh.1,500 fee to visit the park and Tsh.500 for the Crater, as charged to local tourists will remain constant probably due to the fact that, local people have been showing very little interest in visit the area.
Overall, NCA earns between Tsh.3 and 4 billion each year from the tourists visiting the park. The money is usually invested in repairing park facilities and roads plus providing salaries to NCA staff.
The park authority have also formed a non governmental organization known as Ereto, which deals in supporting the local communities within the conservation area by providing them with food and other social amenities, free of charge.
Ereto, also provide veterinary assistance to the Maasai pastoralists in the area most of whom are said to be so poor that they usually can not afford them on their own.
Ngorongoro National Park was declared the world’s natural heritage area in 1978.