Arusha — DIFFERENT stakeholders are to be invited to discuss viable options that will enable the government reach a decision on the fate Ngorongoro Conservation Area whose human population has become a threat to wildlife.
There has been a discussion for a while now about the world's largest unbroken caldera that is a world heritage that is coming to a tipping point as the population ranges between 90,000 and 100,000 as compared to only 9,000 people who were there in 1959 when an agreement of co-existence was reached.
On April 6th this year, President Samia Suluhu Hassan addressed with concern the challenge, banning immigration of more people to the conserved area and calling upon the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism to take the matter seriously.
The Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Dr Damas Ndumbaro said on Saturday that stakeholders that will be involved in the discussion include residents in 25 villages of 11 wards in Ngorongoro, the legislator, councillors, and district council as well as national and international stakeholders.
According to Dr Ndumbaro, issues at stake will involve reinstating Ngorongoro to the state it was in 1959, deciding if people should be left to overwhelm the wildlife or reducing the population by taking people out of the conserved area. The minister said that given the seriousness of the matter, people should remain calm since no one's contribution will be final.
He said having collected ideas and inputs from stakeholders, eligible authority will make a final decision.
"There are issues here, should we let the situation remain as it is so that people overwhelm wildlife or we should reduce the population so that we reinstate the situation that existed in 1959? We have to sit down and deliberate on this matter," said Dr Ndumbaro.
The president warned that Ngorongoro is on the brink of vanishing as a conserved area. She reminded that the uniqueness and specialty of Ngorongoro area lied in its character and nature of allowing people and wild animals to co-exist.
With between 90,000 and 100,000 people now, Mama Samia said it is definite that animals will be overwhelmed and hence Ngorongoro will no longer remain in its status as a world heritage site. Ngorongoro conservation area spans vast expanses of highland plains, savanna, savanna woodlands and forests.
Established in 1959 as a multiple land use area, with wildlife co-existing with seminomadic Maasai pastoralists practicing traditional livestock grazing, it includes the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater.
This comes less than four months since NCAA senior conservators and the then Ministry of Natural Resources Permanent Secretary (PS), Dr Alloyce Nzuki spoke of the matter, saying it was then or never that action be taken to save the caldera from ending in tatters.
President Samia said that there are also Ngorongoro workers and retirees who have decided to relocate and live within NCA, something that is contributing to an increased population, warning that it is time to decide if the status of Ngorongoro is maintained or otherwise.