26 November 2012

Tanzania: Push to Place 'God's Mountain' Under NCAA

THE Parliamentary Committee on Land, Natural Resources and Environment has proposed that "Oldonyo Leng'ai," the active volcano, be placed under proper conservation.

Elevating at nearly 3000 metres above sea level, Oldonyo Lengai located on the leeward of the Ngorongoro Crater, is Tanzania's third highest peak after Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru, but unlike the two, the volcanic mountain is not under any protection.

The Parliamentary Committee, led by Mr James Lembeli, the MP for Kahama was on tour of the Northern Zone recently and seemed to be shopping for more areas to conserve and the active volcano at Lengai was rather beckoning especially because it is already attracting considerable number of tourists, scholars and researchers.

But, a representative from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Donatius Kamamba, revealed that efforts to place the mountain under the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority had been made before but local residents in villages at its foot aided by some Non-Government Organizations put up a stiff resistance.

One of the NCAA board members, Mr Lekule Laizer said he was part of the delegation that went to Enkaresero trying to persuade local villagers to let the feature be placed under proper conservation for protection but the people there vehemently refused.

The mostly Maasai communities around the mountain believe that "Oldonyo Lengai" is where their "God" resides and have been using the site as an altar for worship. According to Mr Laizer, the idea to have both Mount Lengai and the adjacent Lake Natron (a breeding site for lesser flamingoes) was floated in 2008 by President Jakaya Kikwete who was concerned with the future of the two important sites especially because no one was taking care of them.

The Parliamentary Committee of Natural Resources and Environment, however, asked the NCAA and Ngorongoro District Authorities to once more contact the residents at the foot of Lengai and apply better diplomacy in convincing them to allow the mountain be protected for future generations.

Enkaresero Village, with registration title; AR-607 of 2006 measuring 104,550 hectares is made up of Enkaresero, Leparkash and Monic sections; it is the central point for all activities in the area. It is quite busy, especially during tourism seasons as visitors flock there to climb the now cooled, eruptive Mt Lengai.

The village earns $15,000 US dollars a year in terms of land lease fees raised from camping activities in the area. Enkaresero also gets a cut of 20 per cent from gate collections imposed at its entrance by the Ngorongoro District authorities.

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