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Ngorongoro Conservation Area

United Republic of Tanzania
Factors affecting the property in 2002*
  • Effects arising from use of transportation infrastructure
  • Ground transport infrastructure
  • Housing
  • Identity, social cohesion, changes in local population and community
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Livestock farming / grazing of domesticated animals
  • Other Threats:

    Decline of the fauna populations

Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Shortcomings in the management and lack of resources (issues resolved)
  • Residents allowed to grow crops inside the World Heritage site (issue resolved)
  • Construction of an access road 
  • Increased overgrazing
  • Tourist vehicle activity 
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2002

$79,000 to date plus $275,000 IUCN support in 1994 (funded by Germany)

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2002
Requests approved: 13 (from 1979-2001)
Total amount approved : 226,132 USD
Missions to the property until 2002**
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2002

The 25th session of the Committee requested a report from the State Party on the encroachment situation in the northern section of the site and the impacts of commercial farming.  The Committee’s request was transmitted to the State Party by a letter dated 20 December 2001.  No report from the State Party has been received by the Centre and IUCN to date.


In a letter dated 17 April 2002, the Centre was informed that a representative from the UNESCO Dar–es–Salaam Office attended the 68th session of the Board Meeting of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) held on 4 April 2002.  During this meeting, the Board Members tabled the question of cultivation in Ngorongoro.  The UNESCO staff member conveyed the Centre’s concern about the reports received concerning increasing cultivation in Ngorongoro and advised the NCAA Management to keep the Centre informed on the status of cultivation and the measures that are being taken to remedy the problem.  In the same letter the staff member highlighted the following as relates to the issue of Ngorongoro cultivation:

1.  In September 2001, the Prime Minister, during his visit to Ngorongoro, announced that all cultivators in the NCA should prepare themselves for phasing out cultivation and that arrangements would be made to identify and develop alternative areas outside the Conservation Area to resettle those rearing livestock and cultivating beyond subsistence level.  NCA resident pastoralists formed a special Committee and met with the President of the United Republic of Tanzania in October 2001, requesting the Prime Minister’s announcement to be reconsidered.  Subsequently, the President, apparently softening the Government position assured the Committee that small scale crop production in the NCA to supplement declining pastoral food was to continue until alternatives for ensuring food security are sought.  He then gave a number of directives to this effect.  (These directives once translated from Swahili to English, will be made available to the Centre).

2.  Land at Oldonyosambu in Loliondo Division has been identified outside NCA to relocate immigrant cultivators.  Details for acquisition are still being worked out with District authorities.

3.  A multidisciplinary team will shortly be formed to advise on the best areas in the NCA where small-scale crop production can take place without causing adverse impacts on the environment and natural resources.

4.  Significant education and sensitization efforts in conservation, involving local politicians as well as residents, will be made by management, highlighting the threat of continued and growing cultivation on the wildlife, the grazing lands and the income generated by tourism.

5.  An assessment of herbivore stocking, of cultivation and disease control in the NCA undertaken in collaboration with the Colorado State University, USA, has just been completed.  The results will soon be available. It should be noted that the mapping revealed that 9,803 acres of land were under cultivation in February 2000.

6.  The University College of Lands, Architecture and Survey (UCLAS) is being contracted to undertake the boundary demarcation of NCA.

7.  Discussions are underway to relocate NCA staff quarters outside NCA, and move NCA HQs away from the Crater rim.


In another letter also dated the 17 April 2002 concerning the vehicle congestion in the Ngorongoro Crater, UNESCO Dar–es–Salaam Office informed the Centre that the NCCA Board Members acknowledged with thanks assistance provided under the World Heritage Fund to study the impact of vehicle congestion in Ngorongoro.  The Office also drew to the attention of the Centre that Japan has started building a tarmac road which will lead right up to the main gate of the NCAA scheduled to terminate within the next year, which makes the study even more relevant since the road is likely to result in an increase in the number of vehicles.


IUCN received a copy of the Ngorongoro Crater Ungulate Study 1996-1999 Final Report (February 2002) from the Chairman of the IUCN/Species Survival Commission Antelope Specialist Group.  The report was requested by the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) to ascertain why the populations of wildebeest and other plains ungulates have been declining since the early to mid-1980’s, and to develop a monitoring programme that will provide the data necessary for the management of the ecosystem.


The report notes:

·  Since the early to mid 1980’s, the number of hoofed animals in the Crater decreased by nearly 25%, from around 25,000 to 19,000.  Significant declines have been observed in the wildebeest and eland and Thomson’s gazelle populations, while buffalo numbers have increased from near zero in the 1960’s to over 2,000;

·  At the same time, other changes in species composition have occurred, such as reduction in the lion and hyena populations, while human impacts inside the Crater (changes to drainage patterns; roadworks, increased numbers and crowding of vehicles) and on the Crater rim and Highlands (increased number of people, development, settlement and cultivation) have grown; 

·  These indicate important changes in the ecology of the Crater.  The report addresses several possibilities for the changes in relative species composition, including: reduced quantity of water entering the Crater, due either to reduced annual rainfall or diversion for human use, and blocking of and other interference with natural distribution of water in the Crater; reduced carrying capacity for plains game due to poor quality grazing, for which lack of a burning programme could be accountable; lower calf survival and recruitment rates and/or higher adult mortality resulting from poor nutrition, disease, or increased predatory pressure; emigration of substantial numbers of animals that failed to return; interference with Crater wildlife moving across or residing in the Crater Highlands.


Fire: The report noted, based on a number of key studies, that the human impact of preventing fire as much as possible over the last 30 years is most likely the major reason for the decline in hoofed animals in the Crater.  Vegetation composition in terms of species, palatability, structure and fiber content are considered to be determinants in the viability of different-sized ruminant herbivores.  Medium and small sized ruminants like the wildebeest and Thomson’s gazelle need shorter, lower fiber grasses, however with the prohibition of burning, grass has grown tall and more fibrous, conditions more favoured by buffalo. 


Water supply: The report indicates that diversion of the Crater’s streams for tourist lodges is possibly depriving the Crater of a substantial part of its water supply.  It cites the case of one lodge on the Crater rim which diverted water from the Oljoro-Nyuki spring to the extent that in the rainy seasons less than 20% of the spring flow is reached, while in dry seasons the stream stops flowing altogether. 


Road works: Road works are given considerable attention in the report, in particular the 1998 road works which resulted in significant ecological and aesthetic damage.  Road works included widening, excavation of source pits (for road materials), and creation of wide shoulders, ditches and culverts.  These had the effect of blocking drainage, diverting water from the Gorigor swamp and increasing direct flow to Lake Makat.  This means that water and dissolved solids that would normally have flowed into the wetland and evaporated are now delivered directly to the lake.  This is impacting the chemistry of the lake.  Further, diversion of water has impacted one of the Crater’s most significant hippo pools and is interrupting flooding of the grassland during the rainy season.


Tourist vehicles: With respect to impacts of vehicular tourism, the report notes that the number of vehicles recorded at one time in the Crater during peak seasons is between 80 and 140.  At Ngoitoktok, one of only two places where visitors are permitted to get out of their vehicles, as many as 50 vehicles have been seen.  The report also noted that if the road network was extended, the number of vehicles could be increased and visitors dispersed as widely as possible.  A suggestion is made for a new road routing.


Select report conclusions: The importance of the Crater Highlands catchment area that provides Ngorongoro Crater with the water needed to support a resident population of 25,000 herbivores and their predators must be placed at the centre of decision making process.  Development projects of any size should have an environmental impact assessment (EIA) that takes into account possible harm to the Crater’s ecology.  A hydrological survey of the NCA is long overdue.  Determining the sources of springs (notably Ngoitoktok), mapping and protecting the aquifers that sustain them, are of particular and growing importance as destruction of these aquifers by illegal grazing, wood-cutting and clearing continue despite control efforts.  Keeping the Crater as natural and free of human interference as possible should be a primary concern of the NCAA.  In the case of fire, however, the need for active management requires an ecologically based burning program; this overrides the principle of non-interference. 


Select report recommendations:

·  Establish a permanent multidisciplinary scientific committee to oversee research and management needs;

·  Commission a hydrological survey of the whole NCA;

·  Implement the ecologically based burning program, with up to 20% of the Crater grasslands burned annually or bi-annually.  NCA Staff should be taught techniques for controlling and fighting fires;

·  Mitigate ecologically unacceptable roadwork in the Crater;

·  Develop a comprehensive road plan, including an extended network, which will be subject to an EIA;

·  Supervision of tourism in the Crater needs to be carefully but politely exercised.  Limits on the number of cars admitted are essential to limit environmental impact and ensure a high quality experience for visitors.

·  IUCN notes the Ngorongoro Crater Ungulate Study is a credible document.


Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2002
26 COM 21B.22
Ngorongoro Conservation Area (United Republic of Tanzania)
The World Heritage Committee,

1. Acknowledges the support provided by the State Party to produce the Ngorongoro Crater Ungulate Study, while requesting the State Party to implement its recommendations;

2. Urges the State Party to consider imposing a moratorium on new development in and around the Crater (Crater Highlands), until the impacts of the current lodges, road system and other tourism developments are assessed, with particular emphasis on water usage; 

3. Requests the State Party submit a report on the state of conservation of the site, including its response to the Ngorongoro Crater Ungulate Study, by 1 February 2003 for examination at its 27th session in June/July 2003.

The Committee may wish to adopt the following decisions:


"The Committee acknowledges the support provided by the State Party to produce the Ngorongoro Crater Ungulate Study, while requesting the State Party to implement its recommendations.  The Committees urges the State Party to consider imposing a moratorium on new development in and around the Crater (Crater Highlands), until the impacts of the current lodges, road system and other tourism developments are assessed, with particular emphasis on water usage.  Finally, the Committee requests the State Party to report on the state of conservation of the site, including its response to the Ngorongoro Crater Ungulate Study, by 1 February 2003."

Report year: 2002
United Republic of Tanzania
Date of Inscription: 1979
Category: Mixed
Criteria: (iv)(vii)(viii)(ix)(x)
Danger List (dates): 1984-1989
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 26COM (2002)

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.