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Maintaining the rich ecosystem of Serengeti

Conservation starts with the people

Map of Tansania

As of: 10/2022
The Serengeti ecosystem is one of the world’s largest conservation areas for wild animals. But the ecosystem and its great biodiversity are threatened by poaching, overexploitation of natural resources from cattle ranching, population pressure, and harmful infrastructure measures such as the possible construction of a road through the national park. As a result, on behalf of the German Federal Government, KfW is cooperating with its partners to support sustainable development for the Serengeti ecosystem. In order to convince people of the necessary measures, the aim is to increase their involvement, both in terms of income and in terms of long-term management and protection of the natural resources. This, in turn, will help to effectively preserve the biodiversity of this extraordinary ecosystem.

Project titleSustainable development of the Serengeti ecosystem
Commissioned byGerman Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Project partnersTanzania National Parks Authority, Frankfurt Zoological Society

Current situation

The Serengeti stretches over 30,000 square kilometres from Tanzania to southern Kenya and is larger than the German state of Hesse. The ecosystem is one of the largest savannah areas in the world that is still largely intact. It is famous for the seasonal migration of close to 2 million gnus, zebras and various breeds of antelope. Spanning close to 15,000 square kilometres, Serengeti National Park forms the backbone of the ecosystem. It attracts many tourists every year. The sector accounts for around 17% of gross national product. Up to 2 million jobs depend directly or indirectly on tourism.

But the local population benefits the least from the income from travel. Tourism companies are rarely in local control. Often, their labour force comes from other regions because they have more educational opportunities. The two rural neighbouring regions of Serengeti and Ngorongoro are far below the national average in terms of their development. This can also be seen in the inadequate infrastructure, such as roads, schools or health care centres. Since those living in the vicinity of the national park do not profit from it, they do not identify with the protective measures.

A large herd of wild animals run across a barren meadow
Serengeti National Park offers the huge gnu herds space for their migrations.

Project approach

On behalf of the German Federal Government, KfW is supporting the preservation of Serengeti National Park and greater involvement of local residents. It is financing the necessary investments in the districts’ infrastructure, primarily in expanding and rehabilitating the rural road network. In addition, financing is being provided for school buildings, teacher and pupil accommodation, health care centres and small dams for water supply purposes.

To increase the population’s involvement in sustainable resource use, participatory wildlife and forest conservation areas (known as wildlife management areas) are being established in the two districts. The local communities in these areas manage the natural resources themselves and agree on sustainable use strategies. Frankfurt Zoological Society supports the establishment of an administration in the Wildlife Management Areas. And to further curtail resource conflicts, land use plans are drawn up together with the local population: where can cattle graze and which areas are reserved for wild animals? Income-generating measures such as the promotion of community savings groups continue to contribute to reducing the pressure of use on Serengeti National Park. KfW is also helping the Serengeti National Park administrative staff to improve its management mechanisms as well as its equipment and infrastructure. This includes

  • creating management plans
  • providing equipment such as vehicles
  • rehabilitating or building ranger accommodation or administrative buildings
  • a new visitor centre

KfW is providing the lion’s share of funding for the project, with its project partner, the Frankfurt Zoological Society, also providing some of the funds. The project went into its second phase in late 2021.

The Frankfurt Zoological Society is also assisting the project executing agency, the Tanzania National Parks Authority, with implementing biodiversity conservation and sustainable resource use measures. To ensure the long-term viability of these efforts, ZGF will also remain a project partner in the Serengeti ecosystem after the project has been completed.


The project plays a role in achieving the development goals set out in Tanzania’s development plan. In addition, the measures initiated by this project are important steps for compliance with the commitments arising from various international agreements on nature and resource conservation, such as the UNESCO World Heritage Convention and the Convention on Biological Diversity. The effects can be seen in the following points:

  • Through wildlife management areas and improved infrastructure in villages, the local population is receiving a larger share of the income generated from resource conservation.
  • Income-generating measures like the community savings groups also relieve pressure on the natural resources.
  • Since it also financially benefits from the national park, the population in its neighbourhood identifies more strongly with the conservation of resources and biodiversity in the Serengeti ecosystem, which reduces the pressure to exploit resources.
  • Thanks to improved management and park infrastructure, its administration is able to manage the national park more efficiently and sustainably.
  • As a result, the extraordinary biodiversity of this ecosystem can be preserved for generations to come.

The project promotes an alternative to the destructive use of resources and the planned infrastructure developments that would pose a threat to the integrity of the Serengeti ecosystem.

The project contributes to the achievement of these following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:


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