Ngorongoro Conservation Area
The Ngorongoro Crater is located at the northern end of Tanzania, 90 kms west of Arusha, bordering the southeastern end of Serengeti National Park.
It is part of an immense protected territory of 36,086 km² composed of the 8,288 km² of Ngorongoro itself, the 14,763 km² of the Serengeti in the northwest, the 2,200 km² of the Maswa Reserve in the west, the 4,000 km² of the Loliondo Controlled Hunting Zone in the north, the 5,000 km² of the Controlled Hunting Area of Ikorongo-Grumeti in the north, the 1,510 km² of the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya and the 325 km² of Lake Manyara 15 km south.
Its history as a protected space is already old. In 1928 the prohibition of hunting in the crater was established and in 1929 the Serengeti Game Reserve was created; in 1951, the Ngorongoro Reserve becomes part of the Serengeti National Park; in 1959, land was added to create the current Ngorongoro Conservation Area recognizing the right to use to continue pastoralizing that the Masai had traditionally been exercising; in 1975, crops in the crater are prohibited; in 1979 he joined the World Heritage of humanity; In 1981, UNESCO recognized the Serengeti-Ngorongoro space as a Biosphere Reserve. Excavations in the Olduvai Gorge and Laetoli in the west of the Reserve have resulted in discoveries such as Homo Habilis 3.5 million years old,
Its altitude ranges from 960 meters of crater to 3,648 meters of altitude of Mount Loolmalasin. The Crater of Ngorongoro is the world's largest intact caldera of a volcano that is neither active nor flooded, although it contains a small saline lake, Makat Lake and the Gorigor Swamp. The crater measures almost 18 km by 21 km, with an extension of 264 km², occupying 3% of the total Ngorongoro Conservation Area. It has a difference between the base of the crater and its edges between 400 meters and 610 meters. The Conservation Area rises 1,000 meters above the Serengeti plains in the east. Its highlands have four extinct volcanic peaks that exceed 3,000 meters of altitude, including the Loolmalasin (3,648 meters), Oldeani (3,188 meters) and Lomagrut massifs. It is estimated that there was vplvanic activity during the Tertiary, at the end of the Mesozoic. In the highlands, the weather is generally humid and foggy, while temperatures in the semi-arid plains can drop to 2 ° C, and can often rise to 35 ° C. Annual rainfall, with rains between November and April, varies from 500 mm on the arid plains in the west, to 1,700 mm on the forested slopes of the east, increasing with altitude.
Variations in climate, terrain forms and variations in altitude have shaped several well-defined ecosystems and habitats. The undergrowth, extensive mountain meadows, the open moor and the remains of dense evergreen mountain forests cover the steep slopes. Trees in the mountainous region include Albizzia Gummifera, Podocarpus latifolia, Acacia Lahai, Hagenia Abyssinica and Olea Chrysophylla. There is an area with Alpine Arundinaria bamboo on Mount Oldeani and Juniperus Procera cedar on the west of Mount Makarut. Forests with Croton species dominate the slopes of lower altitude. The crater base is composed of plains where Acacia Xanthophloea, Rauvolfia Caffra, Cassipourea Malosana, Albizzia Gummifera and Acacia Lahai grow. The western undulating plains are covered with grass with trees such as acacia tortilis and Commiphora Africana, being almost deserted during periods of acute drought. In the drier areas, next to Lake Eyasi, Acacia mellifera and Dalbergia melanoxylon dominate.
The crater feeds a population of about 25,000 large animals, mostly ungulates, with the highest density of predators in Africa. You can see black rhino, hippo, wildebeest, zebrai (about 4,000 copies), eland (about 7,000), Thomson's gazelle (3,000), lion (about 70 copies), elephant, leopard, redunca, bubal and buffalo (about 4,000 copies) . During the summer a large number of migratory species, from the Serengeti, cross the plains of the Reserve, including 1,700,000 wildebeest, 260,000 zebras and 470,000 gazelles. Some species, such as eland or Thomson's gazelle, have declined in number lately, while others, such as buffalo, have greatly increased. There are more difficult species to see, such as the cob that is mainly near the Lerai forest; the serval can be seen, in addition to the crater, in the western plains. Other common mammals of the Reserve are the golden jackal, the spotted hyena and the jackal. The lycaon has virtually disappeared from the crater but some rare specimens are seen in other areas of the Reserve. The cheetah, which is very common in the Reserve, is scarce in the crater itself. The golden cat has been seen recently in the Ngorongoro forest.
The birdlife is also very numerous, with about 500 different species of birds having been recorded. These include the ostrich, white pelican and huge amounts of flamingos in Lake Makat, in the Ngorongoro crater. The Gorigor Lagoon, Lake Eyasi, Lake Ndutu and Lake of the Empakaai Crater are visited by thousands of herons, ibis, cercetas, malvasia duck, scratches, avocetas, cariblancos fumareles and big-headed gulls. There are also several different species of stork, bearded bones, about 3,000 pairs of brown eagle, Egyptian vulture, papialbos eaglets, lesser falcon, taita hawk, bustards, fischeri lovebird, woodpecker, raven, greedy bisbita, cysticola, Parus fringillinus and Euplecsons. In the forests of the mountainous region you can see Nectarinia reichenowi and N. mediocris. The Papilio Sjoestedti butterfly,
The Reserve region maintains several paleontological and archaeological sites where remains from different eras have been studied as numerous fossil remains are found. The four main sites are the gorge of Olduvai, Laetoli, Lake Ndutu, near the Serengeti, and Nasera, in the Gol mountains. The variety and richness of the fossil remains found, including those of former hominids, has made the area one of the most important places in the world for research on the evolution of the human species. In Olduvai Gorge, valuable remains of early hominids have been found including, in 1959, the Australopithecus Boisei (Zinthanthropus), 1,750,000 years old, as well as Homo habilis and bones of many extinct animals. In 1975, near Laetoli, the group of scientists led by Mary Leakey,
By 1840 the Maasai shepherds began to use the Ngorongoro lands as pastures. In 1959 the multipurpose protection of the Resrba was approved, which allowed it to continue with its livestock activities within the Park. However, the Reserve authorities considered that the thousands of head of cattle grazing in it were endangering the maintenance of protected wildlife. In 2006 it was estimated that there could be about 300,000 cows grazing in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, before which the Government offered alternatives to the Maasai to leave the Reserve and relocate to other places. This situation has led to the impoverishment of some while others have begun to adapt to sedentary life and greater participation in the prosperity brought by tourism.
The spectacular wildlife, geology and archeology of the Ngorongoro-Serengeti Biosphere Reserve are Tanzania's main tourist attractions. Of the 35,000 visitors that the Crater of Ngorongoro had in 1983, 360,000 were passed in 2006 and it is expected that in 2010 they reach the million. There are four accommodations on the edge of the crater and one on Lake Ndutu on the edge of Serengeti, with a total of 620 beds. It has a good infrastructure of guides and vehicles to organize visits. At the entrance and Lodoare there is an interpretive center and another in Olduvai, this one focused on the interpretation of the Gorge and its excavations. In Arusha, in 2002, an Information Center was opened to promote the tourism of Tanzanians.