National Geographic : 1972 Feb
Kenya's Masailand, the country's most fecund wildlife area, totals ten million acres, much of it land too dry for farming. Tradi tionally it has belonged to the pastoral Masai, who move about with their herds, seeking water and forage. They measure their wealth in cattle and rarely poach for skins or hunt for food. In the past they have coexisted well with wild animals.* But now the government has decided that by 1974 these lands will pass from collective tribal ownership into private hands-still Masai, but individuals and groups, for ranch ing. So land where cattle and wildlife alike once roamed freely will be cut up and fenced. The decision affects some eight and a half million acres, all the Masai rangeland not presently in parks and reserves. In Tanzania a similar situation exists. Some years ago the government cut out of Serengeti National Park the magnificent Ngorongoro Crater and declared it and sur rounding lands the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, where Masai would be permitted to live in their traditional manner. Since then the government has proposed that 95 percent of the conservation area be used for agricultural development. Only Ngo rongoro Crater itself and the small Empa kaai Crater, 17 miles away, would be spared. At certain times of the year the hundred square-mile floor of the larger crater supports a concentration of wildlife rivaling that of the Serengeti Plain. The floor, containing a large blue lake, lies 5,600 feet above sea level, and the crater walls rise precipitously 2,000 feet higher. Driving about among wilde beest and zebra, eland and gazelle, lion and jackal in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, I could see game trails cut by animals obeying *See the author's "Kenya Says Harambee!" in the February 1969 GEOGRAPHIC. threats at Albert National Park in Zaire, formerly the Democratic Republic of the Congo.