Prospect of more lodges inside Ngorongoro Conservation Area prompts protests


(Posted 06th October 2013)

News emerging over the weekend, that the Tanzanian government has apparently reversed its position of no longer allowing lodges and camps inside the national parks, were met with disappointment if not outright anger by the conservation fraternity. Some years ago, upon the opening of the Bilila Lodge in the central Serengeti, did President Kikwete announce that no more lodges or camps would be permitted inside the park, and by general understanding then in ANY of the parks.

Information therefore, that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism apparently directed the Ngorongoro Conservation Area administration to process four new leases were first met with incredulity but when later confirmed with a range of comments by regular sources not fit to repeat here.

Said one of the calmer commentors: ‘I can understand that there may be some space for a camp in the Lake Ndutu area. This is where the late Hugo von Lawick had his camp which upon his passing was then removed. That transition area between Ngorongoro and the Serengeti proper is at certain times of the year teeming with wildlife and never enough beds then. What is not explainable however is that the company which was given the concession only has to pay half of the regular fees. The Minister must explain that or else raise suspicions similar to the ones his predecessor caused who did very funny deals with hunting companies back then before he was sacked.

There should however not be more lodges on the rim of the crater, that is a no no really from the environmental and conservation standpoint. Already we have hundreds of vehicles entering the crater every day and the conservation area managers have started to limit access into the crater. In the past one could choose to go in the morning or the afternoon or stay all day and from their directive it is now only half day, either morning or afternoon. But the guests at a new lodge will also want to go down into the crater, so more cars still? It is contrary to what has been said before. There is human wildlife conflict in the crater area. More and more people are literally migrating there claiming they have birthrights but how many are truly born there? The numbers are far too big now and in the interest of conservation they should relocate outside the park. They have started to grow food crops inside the conservation area contrary to orders by the park but who is in control there really? Like Loliondo, the government has made too many U-turns in the past and seems to be unable to come up and follow through with a consistent conservation policy. No wonder people like you have so much to say about the state of conservation in our country, because it is absolutely true’.

The matter is likely to be raised in parliament where conservation issues like Loliondo or the on again / off again / on again / off again issue of resettling significant numbers of people from inside the Ngorongoro Conservation Area have regularly raised the political heat among proponents and opponents. One cannot but agree though with one comment which read: ‘Just another nail in the coffin of our national parks and conservation’. Watch this space.