After your introduction to our journey in Busch Gardens Xpedition Africa 2012: Part 1, here’s Part 2!
Ngorongoro Crater is part of Ngorongoro Conservation Area, which covers over 3,000 square miles. The crater itself is the largest of its kind at just shy of a hundred square miles.
Ngorongoro Crater provides a number of diverse habitats including short grassland, swamp, forest, and freshwater lake “inspiring continual migration of animals in and out of the crater.”
Salt Flats (See the pink mass along the horizon? One word: flamingos.)
Grasslands showcase Plains Zebras and a few Wildebeest, happily grazing….
….and Wildebeest participating in a migration…
…while the Freshwater Lake boasts a pod of Hippos.
But the riches of the crater benefit more than just the local wildlife…
Before arriving at the crater, the team visited a Maasai (also spelled “Masai”) village. The Maasai are considered “pastoralists”; a society whose primary economic activity is herding. These people do not live in the crater or farm here, but use the area as a place to bring their cattle, donkey, goats, and sheep to graze or drink water.
Maasai Tribeswoman in Repose
Members of Busch Gardens’ team danced and talked with these amazing people who live in harmony with the land before journeying into Ngorongoro Crater.
Once inside the crater, there was LOTS to see.
Ngorongoro is said to be home to close to 30,000 animals.
For this post, I arranged your animals classically:
This crater is home to over 400 species of reptiles, including…
Leopard Tortoises and…
…Nile Monitor Lizards.
Over 500 species of birds have been recorder in Ngorongoro, including…
The Southern Masked Weaver,
the Kori Bustard,
…and, one of my personal favorites, the Marabou Stork.
Probably the most sought after sights are the mammals of Ngorongoro: over 300 species including…
Majestic Cheetah (check out Shamu TV's Cheetah Series!),
Water Buffalo (that’s another one of the “Big 5!” Check!)
Spotted Hyena, on the lookout for a very challenging snack…
…and just chillin’ out…
And the Black Rhino, who, along with the Javan, Sumatran, and Indian Rhinos, is classified as Critically Endangered. What does that mean? According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the population of Black Rhino:
“...has declined by an estimated 97.6% since 1960 with numbers bottoming out at 2,410 in 1995, mainly as a result of poaching. Since then, numbers have been steadily increasing at a continental level with numbers doubling to 4,800 by the end of 2010. Current numbers are however still >90%, lower than three generations ago.”
These facts are devastating and illustrate challenges faced by many species all over the world, but there is hope, at home and abroad, and it comes in the form of education.
The mission to preserve Africa’s wildlife is a big one that takes many people working together. One of the biggest threats to wildlife is poachers (those who illegally hunt or collect wildlife.) Poachers do what they do, not necessarily because they use their spoils themselves, but because they’re able to support their families with their hunting. Though the black market for wildlife and the by-products of hunting is foreign to many of us, it’s still going strong.
However, if you give poachers another source of income, one that utilizes their current skill set AND depends on the preservation of wildlife, a whole job market that benefits EVERYONE opens up. Enter facilities like the one our team visited, the College of African Wildlife Management at Mweka.
The students at this school (who are not only ex-poachers, but people from all over the globe who are interested in making a living in a conservation related profession) who can choose from tracks like:
- Basic Certificate in Wildlife & Tourism Management (6 months)
- Technician Certificate in Tourism Hunting (1 year)
- Technician Certificate in Wildlife Tourism (1 year)
- Ordinary Diploma in Wildlife Tourism (2 years)
- Bachelor in Wildlife Tourism (3 Years)
- Postgraduate Diploma in Tourism Planning and Management (1year)
- Technician Certificate in Wildlife Management (1 year)
- Ordinary Diploma in Wildlife Management (2 years)
- Bachelor in Wildlife Management (3 years)
According to their website, "To-date the College has trained over 5000 wildlife managers from over 52 countries worldwide (28 African countries and 24 other countries in the world), the majority are working in protected areas throughout sub-Saharan Africa." Amazing!
So, that's how some folks in Africa are helping to conserve wildlife, but what is Busch Gardens doing? How can WE help?
The SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Conservation Fund makes it easy to donate to already funded projects all over the globe. Over one million dollars a year goes to support species research, rescue and rehabilitation, habitat protection, and conservation education.
Donating funds to support conservation efforts is great, but remember, conservation begins at home. You shown your appreciation for wildlife just by reading this article. You'll probably branch out from here to learn more. Maybe you recycle at home and at work and take reusable shopping bags to the store with you. Maybe you even send your kids to camps that enstill appreciation of wildlife.If you're ready to take it a step further, look into local environmental agencies who could use help. Check out some of Hillsborough County's opportunities with...
Whether you have 5 minutes, 5 hours, or 5 years, YOU can make a difference.
Thanks for reading! For more details, you can read the day to day adventures of Busch Gardens' Xpedition Team or check back here...there's one more installment to go. Will we be able to check off the last of Africa's Big 5? We'll see...