Tourism is a two-edged sword. The income and jobs it brings can help protect the ecosystem. But increasing tourism brings impacts that threaten habitat and wildlife, even the future of tourism itself.
It’s fair to say that without tourism, most of the protected wildlife areas in East Africa would not exist. The big question is, however, will these protected natural areas collapse under the weight of their own success. How many tourists are too many? And can the numbers even be controlled?
Moreover, locals do include human communities around the Serengeti, which need to get tangible benefits from tourism. Otherwise, they may turn their backs on conservation, as this recent article suggests,
Masai Mara is Too Crowded
How Many Tourists Are Too Many?
The way forward
Right now, tourists come primarily from Western countries, the US, UK, and Germany. But new markets are being targeted, especially in China and India. If these markets take off, the numbers could be staggering.
It’s up to the tourism industry and travelers to step up and give back with real support. We’re working on this through our Friends of Serengeti program.