Travel

Manongi: Conservation advocate whose great deeds go unnoticed

Choke the weak one, but give him his right, industry says in Kiswahili adage

SATURDAY February 5, 2022

Before a large volcano collapsed, the 610-metre deep and 260-square-kilometre wide Ngorongoro Crater is said to have been similar to Mount Kilimanjaro with an estimated height of between 4,500 and 5,800 metres above sea level. PHOTO | ON THE GO TOURS

By The Tranquility News Reporter, Tanzania

Key tourism players have taken their hats off to Ngorongoro Conservation Area Commissioner Freddy Manongi, saying he is a Tanzania’s icon of sustainable conservation.

Dr Manongi is an unsung conservation hero whose competence and bearing has shaped the fragile, yet the most cherished tourists’ attraction to date. He deserves kudos for steering the Tanzania’s conservation body well, the industry says.

Tour operators see Dr Manongi as a conservation superman accomplished in protecting, expanding and promoting one of the country’s most treasured godsend, explains Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sirili Akko.

Since he was appointed at the helm of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA), Dr Manongi has been navigating the state-run conservation authority with competence, skills, dedication and sincerity.

Courtesy of his meticulous efforts, the area has been voted the best tourism site for outdoor enthusiasts, raising the country’s profile among finest tourism destinations worldwide.

Tourism industry stakeholders in Tanzania give Dr Freddy Manongi, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Commissioner, a pat on the back for steering the state-run authority. PHOTO | NCAA

Ngorongoro, which is part of the Tanzania’s richest tourism circuits, has featured prominently among the best 25 national parks in 2022 which fanatics globally picked through the world’s largest travel platform — Trip Advisor.

“We often do not celebrate our very own heroes and heroines while they are still alive, it’s time we broke the norm by recognising Dr Manongi for his exemplary conservation work,” Mr Akko says in an interview with The Tranquility News in Arusha, Tanzania, recently.

Dr Manongi is an uncelebrated hero, who has not only worked extremely hard to further ecology at the highest level, but also has reinstated professionalism and discipline within the prime conservation body, tour operators aver.

Dr Manongi is the brain behind the strategy that saw an endorsement of the Ngorongoro-Lengai into the global geoparks list by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

Ngorongoro Conservation Area is home to the first geopark in East Africa. PHOTO | TOURISM UPDATE

Geo-tourism is a new concept that sustains and enhances the distinctive geographical character of a given precinct, including the environment, heritage, aesthetics, tradition, culture and the wellbeing of its residents.

The Ngorongoro-Lengai ticks most of the boxes in the case Dr Manongi built, making the entity not only the first geopark in East Africa, but also the pioneer site for geo-tourism in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Straddling three districts of Ngorongoro, Karatu, and Monduli in Arusha Region, Ngorongoro-Lengai Geopark is the second in Africa after the M’Goun in Morocco.

Covering 12,000 square kilometers of rocky hills, lengthy underground caves, lake basins and hominid discovery sites, Ngorongoro-Lengai Geopark is sandwiched between Serengeti National Park to the north and north-west, Lake Natron to the east, the left arm of the Great Rift Valley to the south and Maswa Game Reserve to the west.

The geopark comprises ancient Datoga tombs and a caldera route encompassing the Irkepus Village, an old German house, a hippo pool and Seneto springs — the active Oldonyo-Lengai Volcano, and the Empakai Crater, among other awesome sites.

Eco-friendly hard stone materials have been used for paving the roads to protect the environment within Ngorongoro Conservation Area. PHOTO | NCAA

Dr Manongi is also celebrated for improving crucial infrastructure along with a marketing campaign which has of late multiplied the number of tourists and boosted revenues and the corporate social responsibility’s package.

“Roads descending and ascending the crater are among key infrastructure that have undergone major constructions and renovations to offer tourists hustle-free trips within the World Heritage Site,” the Tanzania Tour Guides Association (TTGA) Chairman, Mr Emmanuel Mollel, chips in in a separate interview.

Non-bitumen materials have been used for constructing the 4.2-kilometre-long lane linking Seneto to the Ngorongoro Crater, says the TTGA Chief, explaining: “The eco-friendly hard stone materials have been used for paving the roads to protect the environment within the conservation area.”

In its efforts to maintain competitive tourism services, the NCA has under Dr Manongi’s management modernised its toilet services at the entry and exit gates as well as at other areas frequented by visitors, including camping and picnic sites. Modern toilets have also been built at the Loduare Gate and the Olduvai excavation site.

Ngorongoro Conservation Area attracted 147,276 tourists between July and October 2021. PHOTO | AFKTRAVEL

No wonder the number of tourist arrivals to the NCA had swollen between July and October 2021 to reach 147,276 visitors, raising new hopes for quick tourism recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dabbed the eighth wonder of the world, the NCA, which stretches across some 8,300 square kilometres of the northern Tanzania, boasts a blend of landscapes, wildlife, people and archaeology that is unsurpassed in Africa.

Ngorongoro incorporates original sites the first human being is believed to have originated and lived millions of decades ago. It is the place for entire world’s population to trace its ancestral roots.

Given the world has seen inventions, trips to the moon, exploration to outer space and diving into deepest seas, the life preceding an aura of technological modernity is what most people are yet to witness.

The 7 billion population mark on earth is a telltale sign that humans have evolved and multiplied much, a compelling urge to travel back and retrace real ancestors’ footsteps one feels is not surprising.

The hominid footprints at Laetoli date back to 4 million years. PHOTO | TTB

Unchanged and unspoiled dinosaur age settings can still be found mapped in their authentic natural forms on two adjacent sites within Ngorongoro, namely Olduvai and Laetoli.

Olduvai, named after the sword-shaped wild sisal dubbed oldupai in Maasai vernacular, and its neighbouring Laetoli hominid footprints site remain the sole places the world’s ancient natural stamps still exist.

Thanks to Dr Manongi’s leadership for enabling Tanzania to set a global record by building the ‘world’s largest human history museum’ at the archaeological discovery sites.

The Olduvai Gorge Museum houses all archaeological findings, artefacts as well as replicas from various sites in Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia and South Africa, among others.

They include the remains of ‘Lucy’. Referred to as the grandmother of humanity, Lucy is a most complete skeleton of an early human ancestor ever discovered. The fossil unearthed in Ethiopia is of a female member of Australopithecus afarensis, who lived 3.2 million years ago.

Dating back to 4 million years, the hominid footprints traced a stone’s throw away at Laetoli, nevertheless, beat the granny’s skeletonΩ

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