Sustainable tourism and community benefits from tourism are some of
key issues that will attract participants attending the
forthcoming International Institute for Peace through Tourism (IIPT)
Symposium starting in Johannesburg, South Africa, this week.
Having been living together, mixing with wild animals for centuries,
the Maasai communities in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in northern
Tanzania have named and connected their family names to the wild
animals, giving the wildlife rights to live, protection, and sharing
the pasture land with livestock.
It is a taboo for the Maasai to kill wild animals, based on a belief
that human beings were created to look after livestock, not other animal species. This taboo has greatly created awareness among the Maasai communities in protecting and conserving the wildlife in Ngorongoro, the leading tourist hotspot in Northern Tanzania.
Augustino Parkay, the local Maasai pastoralist leader, said the Maasai
communities have been living with wild animals in peace and harmony
for centuries; now, the communities which are living inside the
conservation area are the leading beneficiaries from tourism
The Maasai in Ngorongoro has so far condemned any killing of fierce
and dangerous wild creatures including poisonous snakes crawling in
the conservation area, basing the beliefs on God’s creation and rights
for life to all living organisms.
Parkay and his fellow Maasais are strong believers of conservation and
sustainable tourism, while sticking to their traditional ways of life
that is based on keeping the livestock.
Not only the wildlife, but Maasai communities respect local trees
growing naturally in the conservation area – some of those trees are
shrines where women and men visit to pay respects to God.
Maasai communities use traditional norms in conservation, a situation
which had attracted international class tourists from all corners of
the world to visit the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and raised the income of 87,000 pastoralists living there.
The Maasai’s traditional philosophy in conserving nature is based on
their belief of “Respecting what God had created” said Parkay.
They also respect volcanic eruptions from a nearby Oldoinyo Lengai,
the only active volcano in Tanzania, a situation which had attracted
local communities to guide tourists and other visitors to help in
conserving natural resources on the slopes of this mountain.
Discovery of the skull of the earliest man in this part of Tanzania
had made the Maasai communities more proud to see and welcome
international researchers and scientists working on fossil excavations
in Oldupai (also known as Olduvai) Gorge inside the conservation area.
Through a good relationship between the Maasai communities and the
Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, tourist development has become
an icon of life there and brought poaching incidents to zero, making
the area a model example of a place in the world where local
communities are living in peace with wild animals, sharing the
benefits of tourism.
Covering some 8,300 square kilometers, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) comprises the famous 23-kilometer Ngorongoro Crater which boasts of a resident population of more than 25,000 large African mammals and birds including giraffe, black rhino, ostriches, lion, hyena, and leopards, among others.
The crater is Tanzania’s tourist icon and has been named a Seven
Natural Wonder of Africa in 2013 by its iconic natural attractions.