The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a protected area in the Crater Highlands area of Tanzania. The area is named after Ngorongoro Crater, a large volcanic caldera within the area.
It is situated between the Great Rift Valley to the east and the Serengeti National Park to the west.
In 2009 Maasai pastoralists, most of whom had been relocated to Ngorongoro from their ancestral lands in Serengeti National Park in 1959 by the British colonial government were again displaced by the Ngorogoro Wildlife Conservation Act.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area is not a National Park and just like a National Park it has stricter rules than the rest of the Conservation Areas only allowing tourists to visit in vehicles. In other Conservation Areas escorted walks are allowed.
The Ngorongoro Crater:
Visiting the Ngorongoro Crater is one of the highlights to many safari-goers. The crater is roughly 20 km wide and 600 m deep, and its floor is home to a rich and highly concentrated wildlife.
More than 20,000 large mammals live in the crater, including about 20 black rhinoceros, making the crater the best place in Tanzania to see the rhino. Apart from the rhinoceros, the herbivores are represented by species such as wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, elephant, hippopotamus, gazelles, antelopes and warthog. Birding can be rewarding, too, especially during the northern hemisphere winter, when migrant birds, for example abdim storks, come to stay in the area. During this time, the population of wildebeest and zebras also increases, due to migrations. The animals can move into and out of the crater using trails from the crater rim, but most stay on the crater floor, making the crater well worth visiting all year round.
Carnivores such as Lions, cheetahs, hyenas and jackals are commonly seen, while leopards, servals and bat-eared foxes may be seen with some good luck.
Since 1986, the crater’s wildebeest population has fallen from 14,677 to 7,250 between years 2003-2005. The numbers of eland and Thomson’s gazelle also have declined while the buffalo population has increased greatly, probably due to the long prevention of fire which favors high-fibrous grasses over shorter, less fibrous types.
Impalas are absent because the open woodland they prefer does not exist. Giraffe also are absent, possibly because of a lack of browse species.
The crater floor altitude is 1,600–1,700 m above sea level, and is a mainly flat and open area, broken by a few rounded hills. There is one decently sized forest, a soda lake, two marshes, a few creeks and some scattered pools. The rest of the crater floor is open grassland. The eastern crater walls are forested due to more rainfall. The drier western walls, have euphorbia trees.