Research Article

Threats to the Serengeti Herds

Stephen Makachaa1, Michael J. Msingwaa2 and George W. Framea3

a1 Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, P.O. Box 1, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania (Present address: College of African Wildlife Management, Mweka, P.O. Box 3031, Moshi, Tanzania);

a2 Maswa Game Reserve, P.O. Box 149, Maswa, Tanzania;

a3 Serengeti Research Institute, P.O. Seronera, via Arusha, Tanzania (Present address: Dept. of Fisheries and Wildlife, College of Natural Resources, Utah State University, Logan, Utah 84322, USA).


The Serengeti National Park in Tanzania is famous for its huge herds of migrating wildebeest, zebras and other ungulates. But these herds spend much of the year in neighbouring reserves where their survival depends on preserving the right conditions. The authors made a study of two of these reserves with disturbing results. The Maswa Game Reserve they found was seriously threatened by invading (illegal) settlement with a fast-growing population cultivating land and felling trees; in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area they report that the Maasai have taken to poaching, both for subsistence meat and for trophies to sell – skins, ivory and rhino horn. In both places the guards are so poorly equipped they can do little to stop poaching.