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Online Extra: Amboseli Update
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In Learn More the National Geographic magazine team shares some of its best sources and other information to expand your knowledge of our featured subjects. Special thanks to the Research Division.

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Did You Know?Did You Know?

The Olduvai Gorge, with its volcanic rich plains and exposed gullies, has long been recognized as a paleoanthropologic gem by the National Geographic Society. Over 90 grants have been given by the Geographic to fund research at Olduvai—many to the Leakey family. Louis and Mary Leakey, patriarch and matriarch of the three-generation family of scientists, unearthed a fossil hominin skull of a Australopithecus boisei there in 1959. Dated at 1.8 million years old, it was, at that time, the oldest known human ancestor.
Located 45 miles (72 kilometers) northwest of the Ngorongoro Crater, Olduvai—sometimes spelled Oldupai, the Maasai name for the wild sisal plant that grows there—contains sediments interspersed with layers of volcanic ash and lava that date back over two million years. Within these beds, a plethora of plant, animal, and human fossils has been excavated. But the preservation of dig sites at Olduvai Gorge has been threatened in recent years. Existing facilities are in a state of decay, and a lack of security has left many of the gorge's treasures vulnerable to damage.
The gorge—part of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA)—was established as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1974. Status as a World Heritage site brings with it international recognition and fosters partnerships between the World Heritage Center, NGOs, and local governments. At the most basic level, UNESCO's World Heritage mission is to encourage and support conservation. And according to Charles Musiba, a Tanzanian-born professor of anthropology at the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, "That's just it. UNESCO provides a framework for conservation. It takes key players, from multiple levels, to establish lasting conservation plans." Musiba feels that cohesive cooperation is what has been lacking in the NCA.
Musiba is a paleoanthropologist who established a summer field school at Olduvai, a collaborative effort between multiple academic institutions including Bugando University College of Health Sciences, Kyoto University, and the University of Colorado at Denver. A major mission of the school is to include local Maasai elementary and secondary schoolteachers and students in research at the gorge. Teachers then prepare lesson plans on the cultural, ecological, and paleoanthropological significance of Olduvai. Making local youth conscious of their surroundings will prepare them to become involved in future development at the gorge. "Empowerment of the local people is key," says Musiba.
The field school coordinators are working with Tanzania's Department of Antiquities and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority to establish a long-term plan for the preservation of Olduvai as an educational site. Musiba envisions an education center staffed by local Maasai cultural guides and indigenous scientists. Walking and donkey tours of the site could be offered, minimizing the impact of vehicles to preserve the integrity of the land. The collaboration among different levels—international, national, and local—spells hope for the future of Olduvai Gorge.
—Sean P. O'Connor


Related Links

Community Research and Development Services
The organizaton conducts research on the political, social, economic, cultural, and ecological development of pastoralists in Ngorongoro District . 
Frankfurt Zoological Society
Markus Borner leads Frankfurt Zoological Society projects in Serengeti National Park from its East African headquarters at Seronera in the heart of the park.
Maasai Environmental Resource Coalition
This coalition is a network of Maasai grassroots organizations working for the protection of traditional land rights as well as for conservation, management, and sustainable use of the East African ecosystems.
Save Amboseli
This site contains a chronology of events surrounding the reclassification of Amboseli National Park as well as updates on the park's status.
Serengeti National Park
Find an introduction to the natural wonders of Serengeti National Park and play an animal sound game at the park's main Web page



Agency for Cooperation and Research in Development. "Confronting HIV/AIDS Among the Pastoralist Communities." (2004). Available online at www.acord.org.uk/maasai_hiv.htm.
Baldus, Rolf D., and others. "Community Based Conservation: Where Are We Now—Where Are We Going?" Miombo—The Newsletter of the Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania (July 2004). Available online at www.wildlife-programme.gtz.de/wildlife/download/cbc.pdf.
Burford, Gemma, and others. "The Forest Retreat of Orpul: A Holistic System of Health Care Practiced by the Maasai Tribe of East Africa." Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine (vol. 7: 2001), 547-51.
Galvin, Kathleen A., and others. "Compatibility of Pastoralism and Conservation? A Test Case Using Integrated Assessment in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania." In Conservation and Mobile Indigenous Peoples: Displacement, Forced Settlement and Sustainable Development, eds. Chatty, Dawn, and Marcus Colchester. Berghahn Books, 2002.
Goldstein, Gregg. "The Legal System and Wildlife Conservation: History and the Law's Effect on Indigenous People and Community Conservation in Tanzania." Georgetown International Environmental Law Review (April 1, 2005), 481-502.
Hando, Justin. "Community Conservation Services: Experiences from Serengeti National Park." In Linking Universal and Local Values: Managing a Sustainable Future for World Heritage. UNESCO World Heritage Paper No. 13 (November 2004), eds. de Merode, Eleónore, and others. Available online at whc.unesco.org/documents/publi_wh_papers_13_en.pdf.
Holmern, Tomas, and others. Human-Wildlife Conflicts and Hunting in the Western Serengeti, Tanzania. Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, 2004. Available online at www.bio.ntnu.no/users/tomash/Reports/Project_report_26c.pdf.
Homewood, Katherine M., and W. A. Rodgers. Maasailand Ecology: Pastoralist Development and Wildlife Conservation in Ngorongoro, Tanzania. Cambridge University Press, 1991.
Matthiessen, Peter. The Tree Where Man Was Born. Penguin,1995.
Musiba, Charles, and Audax Mabulla. "Politics, Cattle, and Conservation: Ngorongoro Crater at a Crossroads." In East African Archaeology: Foragers, Potters, Smiths, and Traders, eds. Kusimba, Chapurukha M., and Sibel B. Kusimba. University of Pennsylvania Museum, 2003.
Okello, M. M. "Land Use Changes and Human-Wildlife Conflicts in the Amboseli Area, Kenya." Human Dimensions of Wildlife (2005), 19-28.
Packer, Craig,  and others. "Ecological Change, Group Territoriality, and Population Dynamics in Serengeti Lions." Science (January 21, 2005), 390-93.
Pavitt, Nigel. Africa's Great Rift Valley. Abrams, 2001.
Saitoti, Tepilit Ole. Maasai. Harry N. Abrams, 1980.
Sinclair, A.R.E., and Peter Arcese, editors. Serengeti II: Dynamics, Management, and Conservation of an Ecosystem. University of Chicago Press, 1995.
Thirgood, Simon, and others. "Can Parks Protect Migratory Ungulates? The Case of the Serengeti Wildebeest." Animal Conservation (vol. 7, 2004), 113-20. Available online at www.montana.edu/ecology/courses/biol447/thirgood%20et%20al.pdf.
Whitman, Karyl, and others. "Sustainable trophy hunting in African lions." Nature (March 11, 2004), 175-78.


NGS Resources

Carroll, Chris. "Misjudged Hyenas." National Geographic (June 2005), 50-65.

Lekuton, Joseph Lemasolai. Facing the Lion: Growing Up Maasai on the African Savanna. National Geographic Books, 2003.
Lambkin, David. "Into Africa." National Geographic Traveler (October 2003), 107-16. 
Holland, Jennifer Steinberg. "Zebras: Born to Roam." National Geographic (September 2003), 30-43.
Thompson, Gare. On Safari. National Geographic Books, 2002
Conniff, Richard. "Cheetahs: Ghosts of the Grasslands." National Geographic (December 1999), 2-31.

Packer, Craig. "Captives in the Wild." National Geographic (April 1992), 122-36.
Alexander, Shana. "The Glory of Life." National Geographic (May 1986), 584-601.

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