Executive Summary

This document details strategies, objectives and programs for both Serengeti Watch and Serengeti Preservation Foundation. They extend what we have already built and integrate our programs more closely, working to build of culture of conservation: the capacity and will to protect the Serengeti ecosystem.

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.

Of all the factors in this equation, unchecked population pressures will be the tsunami that wipes away all gains in both conservation and human welfare.

Climate change, invasive species, and disease put yet more stress on wildlife and human habitat.  All the while, tourism continues to grow, and its income is siphoned to far off cities. All this is combined with a growing demand for big development projects. Investment in roads, railways, and ports by the Chinese create a perfect storm of threats.

Preservation Involves Both Natural and Human Ecologies

Preserving the Serengeti is a function two interrelated factors – one we call Natural Ecology, the habitat and wildlife of the Serengeti itself.  The other, Human Ecology.

Natural Ecology needs scientific research and monitoring, invasive species eradication, anti-poaching patrols, effective law enforcement, veterinary services, new technologies like drones and remote sensing – all essential to understanding and protecting a complex natural ecosystem.

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.

The Serengeti ecosystem really extends beyond the boundaries of the park and adjacent protected areas, into surrounding farms, villages, and towns. Ultimately, people and wildlife share this extended ecosystem and their fates are intertwined.

Build Worldwide Support / Fund Local Action

Other organizations focus on scientific research, anti-poaching, human-wildlife conflict, and sometimes community outreach. We bring a complementary approach, an integrated plan to address the human side of the equation. Our focus is on human ecology and the web of opinion, education, reporting, political support, and community involvement that is required to provide lasting protection for Africa’s last great natural treasures. Our mission is focused on, though not limited to, Tanzania. Whenever possible, it will carry over into Kenya through cooperation with NGO’s there.

Our strategy has two components:

Worldwide support. Serengeti Watch has helped to build outside support with funding from individuals around the world. It has built awareness and helped to stop a devastating commercial highway across the Serengeti. By closely monitoring the Serengeti, we can alert people to critical threats and rally their support. By educating them, we can appeal for funding to support local action.

Local action, especially by and for local communities around the Serengeti. This is being accomplished on the ground through our partner, the Serengeti Preservation Foundation, (SPF), a registered Tanzanian nonprofit organization. Serengeti Watch helped to found and continues to support SPF. Serengeti Preservation Foundation has made excellent progress with programs that have been piloted, field tested, and extended to multiple locations. These include:

  • journalism training workshops
  • field trips for journalists
  • a national journalist organization
  • radio programming to local communities
  • school programs
  • local partnership building.

Objectives & Outcomes

The Serengeti Preservation Foundation is listed first because it’s the most important and embodies the overall strategy of building a culture of conservation in East Africa.

SPF Objectives

  • Educate multiple stakeholders with school and media programs
  • Work within local communities to build human welfare and support for conservation
  • Bring community and conservation issues to opinion leaders and policy makers
  • Build a culture of conservation

Targeted Programs

  • Radio Programming informs local communities, which get most information from this medium.
  • Educational programs give teachers and students new curricula, materials and field experience.
  • Community Seminars foster open discussion and gives feedback on local needs.
  • Print Journalism brings issues to a national audience, opinion makers and government officials.
  • Social Media links radio listeners and print readers and provides a measure of their effectiveness.
  • Wildlife Ambassadors, engages university students, and trains them

Community Saturation Programs

Individual programs can and do operate independently, but they are most effective when working in concert and focused on a geographic region. SPF brings programs together in Community Saturation Programs focused on various communities around the Serengeti – Loliondo, Musoma, and Ngorongoro. Saturation programs combine:  Radio, School programs, Community Seminar, Youth service programs. They will be administered by an SPF Regional Staff Member, who will live in and work with the local community. The first region, which is already well underway, is Loliondo on the northeast side of the Serengeti National Park. Musoma and Ngorongoro regions will follow, each benefitting from what has been learned. 

SPF 5-Year Outcomes

A holistic approach provides results in different segments of society and regions of the country, from local communities, to emerging leaders, to media professionals. Projected outcomes from this are:

  • Trained media professionals covering conservation and community development issues in local and national media
  • Actionable new ideas and beneficial practices for local communities, presented through radio, social media, education programs, and community meetings
  • Widespread involvement of university students in conservation education and advocacy
  • Expanded conservation curriculum in every single public school in Tanzania
  • Enhanced connections and synergies among local conservation and community organizations
  • Advocacy for better governance for the Serengeti, and other protected areas.
  • Advocacy and action for community benefits and human welfare around the Serengeti
  • Greater public understanding of conservation and Serengeti communities
  • Networks of leadership and support within Serengeti communities
  • Autonomous operation and independent funding for Serengeti Preservation Foundation.

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.  It discovered and sounded the alarm on this major threat. It 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.

Though its outside support continues to be important, the primary objective is to build capacity within Tanzania for Serengeti conservation. For this reason, SW encouraged and funded the establishment of the Serengeti Preservation Foundation.

SW Objectives

  • Build Local Capacity & Program Support in Tanzania through Serengeti Preservation Foundation
  • Watch for critical threats to the ecosystem. Rally international opinion and pressure if needed
  • Raise more funds by engaging and enlarging our donor base.
  • Build international Travel Industry Support and Funding
  • Support family welfare directly through family planning outreach
  • Support women’s education, indirectly affecting family planning

5-Year Outcomes

  • Increased donor funding for SPF programs
  • Significant participation and funding by tour companies and travelers
  • Greater public awareness and support outside East Africa
  • Better monitoring and preparedness for critical issues when they arise. Reserve funds for legal action.
  • The beginning of reduction in average family size in communities around the Serengeti
  • 100% increase in the number of girls and women receiving formal and informal education

Our Vision for the Serengeti 

Both Serengeti Watch and Serengeti Preservation Foundation envision a healthy, protected ecosystem that can endure into the future, one that will bring tangible benefits to the people of East Africa. Support will come from East Africans themselves: those who live near the Serengeti, far-off city dwellers, government officials, and emerging generations. They will regard their unique natural heritage with pride and value it as a way to build better lives. Those outside Africa will be partners in this enterprise, helping to build sustainable tourism, and providing support where it’s needed.