Loliondo Hills Have Eyes
With Serengeti, Ngorongoro and Maasai Mara stealing global limelight as far as tourism is concerned, people are forgetting a small but crucial component of the legendary Eco-System – Loliondo
As concerns about global warming, climate change and Environment Destruction take center stage globally …
Loliondo, one of the three divisions making up the vast Ngorongoro District, in Arusha Region, is also standing out to be counted, both positively and negatively
Loliondo is essentially part of the Transboundary Serengeti Ecosystem, comprising of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Maswa Game Reserve, Serengeti National Park and Loliondo Game Controlled Area, these are all mapped within Northern Tanzania.
Afterwards the Serengeti Ecosystem extends Northwards, across the border onto the Maasai Mara Game Reserve of Kenya.
The annual Wildebeests Migrations that transerves across the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem are also important reminder of how far the natural range transcends.
Of late, various conservation entities have tried to address the issue of saving the Serengeti ecosystem from disaster as effects of climate change and global warming take toll worldwide.
Among them is the Serengeti based, Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) which is now taking the initiative of assisting local communities living around Loliondo Highlands, to start preserving the forests that act as water catchment areas.
There are three major forests covering the Loliondo Hills. These happen to be the sources of water that flows down into the Serengeti National Park.
“We are particularly concerned with the Grumeti River, which is an important lifeline to the Serengeti Ecosystem and which derives its water from Loliondo Hills!”James Wumbura the Community Conservation Officer for Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) Serengeti Ecosystem Management Office.
The River is essentially home for majority of hippos and giant crocodiles in the Serengeti.
Grumeti is again an important component in the spectacular annual wildebeest migrations.
Wumbura explained that the Zoological Society has taken the community involvement approach by incorporating a total of 55 leaders from 12 villages located around the three main forests in Loliondo highlands.
The villages spawn the two divisions of Ngorongoro, that is Sale and Loliondo.
The forests perched on the highlands include, the Selian, Loliondo One and Enguserosambu. These happen to be major catchment areas for rivers and springs flowing down into the vast Serengeti National Park, Lake Natron and parts of Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
Frankfurt Zoological Society’s approach starts with conducting special sessions to train the more than 50 community leaders from Loliondo and Sale, on matters concerning Forest conservation.
The training also emphasized on communities to start capitalizing in ecological tourism. A gain from the Pain of conservation.
The week-long training was conducted by the Frankfurt Zoological Society in association with the Forestry Training Institute (FTI) of Olmotonyi, in Arusha.
“We raised the villagers’ awareness so that they may realize the value of forest conservation, especially because there are alternative ways of directly benefiting from the reserves,.”Dr Zacharia Lupala – Coordinator of Training at the Olmotonyi Forestry Training Institute (FTI)
What drove FZS to take the step in protecting Loliondo Forests is recent encroachment of people who have been annexing large chunks of the reserves for settlements, farming and even grazing.
Kashanga Pusalet from Olorieni, in Loliondo is among the elders who were trained at Olmotonyi.The maasai are natural experts in matters of conservation but ….
“The issue of Global Warming and Climate Change what was new to most of us, is the issue of climate change which we learned here and upon getting back we are going to change our approach on how we handle the environment!”Kashanga Ole Pusalet -Laigwanan from Olorien
Among the participants there were also women representatives.
Mama Napolos Leshoko from Oldonyowasi Village was among them and she reckons that ladies in Loliondo are natural conservators.
“Because women deal with forest products directly, it where we collect try twigs and branches for firewood as well as tracing springs of clean water.”Napolos Leshoko