The Manyara Ranch in Northern Tanzania is situated between the Tarangire and Lake Manyara national park. While being a cattle farm during the colonial period, the area is being used as a wildlife habitat and corridor between the two national parks today. Especially for elephants, it developed to be an important migration path and a secure refuge. In addition, it also harbors further endangered species such as lions and African wild dogs.
The project area includes several Masai communities, directly neighboring the Manyara Ranch. Overall, about 5,000 people are living in the project communities. The poverty rate is high and alternative income possibilities are hardly available. The majority of the people lives off cattle farming. Due to their high robustness, mainly Zebu cows are being bred – despite their comparatively low meat and milk output. Moreover, Manyara Ranch offers urgently needed jobs, for example in tourism or as rangers – so-called “game scouts”.
Besides the social needs, the region also faces ecological challenges. Due to the high lucrativeness of the illegal trade with ivory, Tanzania – and also Manyara – is massively affected by poaching on elephants. The ongoing dying of the pachyderms for the Asian market does not only threaten the survival of these iconic animals but also has far-reaching consequences for the country’s politics, economy and ecosystems.
In addition, conflicts between wildlife and local herders are a big problem in the project area. Especially between large predators, such as lions and leopards, and the Masai’s cattle incidences arise. The resulting economic loss for the cattle owners and their families is considerably due to the difficult income situation, which is why retaliatory killing of the predators is increasingly happening.