GNF - Living in the wild: Masai herders in Northern Tanzania

Masai Herders in Northern Tanzania



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.


Together with the local partner organization, the African Wildlife Foundation, a set of activities will be implemented in the framework of the project in order to improve the livelihoods of the Masai herders and to reduce potential for conflicts with wild animals as well as to protect endangered wildlife from illegal hunting.


Through cattle breeding programs, the livelihood and income situation of the local Masai communities will be strengthened. The hybridization of Boran cows with the traditionally bred Zebus will increase the meat and milk output, while the positive characteristics of the Zebus remain. This not only improves the nutrition situation of the herder families but also increases the prices for the animals when being sold on local markets. For the implementation of the breeding program, Boran bulls will be purchased and kept on Manyara Ranch, so that the local herders can breed their cows with the bulls. This will be organized by an experiences team and supervised by a vet. Moreover, the game scouts of the Ranch help reducing attacks from wild animals on grazing cattle. Potential for conflicts between Masai and wildlife and thereof resulting retaliatory killing will thus be reduced.


As a further, important part of the project, anti-poaching activities will be implemented on Manyara Ranch in order to protect the elephant populations in the area and to maintain Manyara as an important migration path and secure habitat for the animals. For this, the game scouts will be equipped with urgently needed equipment. This enables them to directly support the protection of the animals as well as investigations of poaching incidences and to inform (supra)regional anti-poaching units.


The activities will be amended by awareness raising campaigns and a close exchange with the surrounding communities in order to achieve a sustainable impact of the implemented project activities.

 The Manyara Ranch is an important habitat for elephants.
 Masai herders and rangers with cows.
 The majority of the people lives off cattle farming.
 Masai herder
 Mobile fences for the protection of the cattle.
 Regular explorations of the cattle by veterinary surgeons.
 Blood samples for Brucellosis testing
 Masai herders and their cattle herd.


 Foundation Ursula Merz
 Hand in Hand-Fonds

Project partner

 African Wildlife Foundation

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Living in the wild: Masai herders in Northern Tanzania


July 2015 – June 2017




African Wildlife Foundation


Foundation Ursula Merz, Environmental Action Germany and Rapunzel Naturkost with funds from the Hand in Hand-Fund