ABOUT SERENGETI WATCH
Serengeti Watch was founded in 2010 in response to the proposed construction of a commercial highway through Serengeti National Park, a development that would have fragmented the ecosystem and destroyed the migration as we know it. We discovered and sounded the alarm on this major threat. And we followed up with a campaign that included petitions by world scientists and individuals around the world, and support of a legal case in the East African Court of Justice. Since then, we have continued to monitor the Serengeti ecosystem and build programs to support it.
Serengeti Watch is a nonprofit organization working through Earth Island Institute, its fiscal sponsor in Berkeley, CA. Earth Island Institute is an established and respected conservation organization in the US.
Earth Island Institute hasthe highest rating on Charity Navigator.
The Future of the Serengeti
It is far from certain that the Serengeti will survive as we know it through this century. A host of threats face the ecosystem: A relentlessly increasing human population makes it hard for people to rise out of poverty. Without direct benefits from conservation, and without understanding how conservation contributes to development, people see the problem as “animals vs. people.” They believe their children, livestock, and farms should take priority. Poaching for bush meat, deforesting for fuel, grazing cattle in the park, these are simply ways to survive. Yet they have dire consequences for the Serengeti.
Communities around the Serengeti already stretch the land’s capacity. If population continues to grow at the current pace, doubling by mid-century and quadrupling by the end of the century, the pressure will be too great. Good governance is crucial for conservation, but in the face of suffering, extreme politics emerge.
Mission and Values
The mission of Serengeti Watch is to build lasting protection of the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem by and for the people of East Africa.
The Serengeti ecosystem, or Serengeti-Mara ecosystem, is composed of the Serengeti National Park and adjoining protected areas in Tanzania, including the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. In Kenya, it includes the Masai Mara Reserve and the surrounding Greater Mara. All of these areas are part of a whole, critical to the ecosystem that we will simply term, the Serengeti.
Our mission is focused on, though not limited to, Tanzania. Whenever possible, support will carry over into Kenya through cooperation with NGO’s there.
- Wilderness is vital to human life and needs protection
- Development and conservation must work together
- Solutions must come from the ground up
- Local people must be able to benefit from conservation
- Existential threats to the Serengeti are building and will increase, especially as human population soars.
- We still have an opportunity to build lasting support, but time is running and a sense of urgency is needed.
- International support is important but will not be sufficient. Conservation must be built from the ground up.
- An important way to inoculate against the vicissitudes of bad policies and destructive politics is to provide strong and widespread support among ordinary citizens.
Strategy: Build Worldwide Support. Fund Local Action
Human Ecology involves the complex human ecosystem stretching from farms and village around the Serengeti, ultimately to far off cities and government offices where economic and political decisions are made. In the end, these socio-economic factors within East Africa will decide the Serengeti’s fate. Without addressing these social, economic, educational and political dimensions, all other efforts will be for naught.
Local Support is vital. Our primary role is to build support within Tanzania for Serengeti conservation. Other organizations focus on scientific research, anti-poaching, human-wildlife conflict, and sometimes community outreach. Needed now is an integrated, long-term plan to address the human side of the equation.
Outside support is important. Many outside Africa have a strong interest in the Serengeti. We keep them informed. Their support has a role to play, especially funding. Outside support also includes the international travel industry, which Serengeti Watch is doing.
We ask for international support, inform our followers on developments, and ask for funding to carry out programs on the ground. We work with local partners who know their own communities and are committed to building lasting relationships with them.
The Serengeti Preservation Foundation is Tanzanian nonprofit organization. SPF is led by Meyasi Meshilieck, who is responsible for designing and implementing our programs for local communities in the Ngoronggoro District, next to the Serengeti National Park.
Where we’re working
Loliondo is an important and challenging area, one that has seen social and political conflict. Though lying outside the park, it is a key buffer zone for the migration. Making an impact here is critical and can serve as a model for other areas.
I. Community Conservation
II. Advocacy, Awareness, Education, Action
III. Interlocking Programs
IV. Community Saturation
V. Cross Program Messaging
Serengeti Watch Directors
David has been traveling to East Africa for the past forty years. He lived in East Africa for seven years, five years in Kenya and two in Uganda, where he was a Peace Corps volunteer. He is the author of a social studies program sponsored by the Swiss government for Utalii College in Nairobi, Kenya. In 1983, he founded Voyagers International, a tour company specializing in worldwide nature tours. Clients included leading museums, universities, and conservation organizations in the US. Voyagers merged with a larger company after twenty-five years. In 1995, he founded a nonprofit conservation organization for the Galapagos Islands (www.igtoa.org) bringing leading tour companies and NGOs together to promote responsible tourism and fund conservation work. He remained the director for ten years and produced and directed a series films on the Galapagos Islands. In 2010, he founded Serengeti Watch, a project of the Earth Island Institute, a US nonprofit conservation organization. He is also the founder of Friends of Serengeti (www.friendsofserengeti.org), a conservation organization for tour operators.
Boyd Norton is the author/photographer of 17 books, ranging in topics from African elephants to mountain gorillas, from Siberia’s Lake Baikal to the Serengeti ecosystem. A recent book, Serengeti: The Eternal Beginning won praise from Jane Goodall, Richard Engel of NBC News, Ed Begley Jr. His newest book is Conservation Photography Handbook: How to Save the World One Photo at a Time, with a Foreword by Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. Boyd is the Recipient of the Sierra Club’s 2015 Ansel Adams award for Conservation Photography. In 2010 Outdoor Photography Magazine in Great Britain listed him as “One of the 40 most influential nature photographers from around the globe.” Boyd has been traveling to and documenting the Serengeti ecosystem for over 30 years. He has served on the Board of Trustees for the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, devoted to saving the last mountain gorillas. He wrote and photographed the book, The Mountain Gorilla (Voyageur Press, 1990) with a Foreword by Betty White. He is a Founder and Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers, and a Founder and Fellow of the International League of Conservation Writers.