Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Established in 1959 as a multiple land-use area, it is the home to the incredible Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest inactive, intact caldera, and Olduvai Gorge, a long deep ravine. The UNESCO World Heritage designated site, located in the Arusha area of Tanzania, is made up of various landscapes and habitats, including highland plains, savanna, savanna woodlands and forests.
The main Ngorongoro crater, active over 2.45 to 2 million years ago, was originally estimated to span 14,800 to 19,000 feet. The conservation area is also home to the Olmoti and Empakaai volcanoes, as well as the Ol Doinyo Lenga, an active volcano located northeast outside the park. The area has been a rich resource of archeological research related to the evolution of our human species and their relationship with the environment, going back four million years.
The Olduvai Gorge is located in the driest part of the region and is acclaimed for its location of some of the earliest known human species. There is a small museum, founded by paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey in the late 1970s, which showcases artifacts and is dedicated to the history of Olduvai Gorge and the Laetoli fossil sites.
The sides of the crater have become a natural enclosure for the many wildlife that exist there, which include the endangered Black Rhino, African hunting dog, golden cat, and nearly 500 species of birds, including flamingos, silvery-cheeked hornbills, superb starlings, and various types of sunbirds. One can also spot many large animals, including cheetahs, hippos, and hyenas. It is also the scene for a portion of the Great Migration that occurs every year, where nearly two million wildebeest, 72,000 zebras, and Thompson and Grant gazelles pass through the area as part of the Serengeti ecosystem that borders the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
The area is also a grazing ground for the indigenous Maasai people, who number about 25,000-40,000. They manage about 275,000 head of livestock.
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