Maasai Steppe, Tanzania

Challenges · Biodiversity · Livestock and Pasture

Landscape Profile

This profile was submitted by a landscape leader closely involved with its management. Submit a profile of your own landscape.

Maasai Steppe, Tanzania

Approximate size (hectares)






Production Systems

Beans, Livestock, Maize


The Maasai Steppe landscape stretches over 8 districts in Arusha and Manyara regions. A large part of the landscape is semi arid, with inhabitants growing predominantly maize and beans. Agriculture and livestock form the main sources of livelihood. The Maasai Steppe is a semi-arid grassland with predominantly acacia woodlands in the low-lying areas and Miombo woodlands in the hills rising in the southwest towards Kondo District. Two national parks – Tarangire and Lake Manyara – provide core habitat for elephant, lion, wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, buffalo, oryx, and a host of other species and are a major tourist attraction. Maasai pastoralists graze livestock throughout the landscape, though subsistence rain-fed farming is an increasingly common practice. Water is key for wildlife and people alike, and the Tarangire River which flows from the hills in Kondoa to Tarangire National Park provides water for communities along the way and for wildlife during the dry seasons. Maasai Steppe is part of AWF’s African Heartlands network.

Voices From The Field

My background is in wildlife ecology, and I have been working in conservation for the past 35+ years. I lived in areas with wildlife during the early years of my life, and the interest began there.

Thadeus Binamungu Senior Program Officer, African Wildlife Foundation

As a regional staff posted in the office responsible for AWF’s Maasai Steppe landscape program and working with the team to raise resources for implementation, I have the privilege of engaging with many of the community groups, local government officials, tour operators and scientists working in the landscape. My overall sense is that there is a strong appreciation for the importance of maintaining ecological integrity in the landscape – both for people and for wildlife – and a willingness of most stakeholders to contribute towards that aim. There are, of course competing ideas and interests that are continuously negotiated through both formal and informal dialogue processes.

Andrea Athanas African Wildlife Foundation

I am a Tanzanian aged 32, and holder of an Advanced Diploma in Wildlife Management from the College of African Wildlife Management in Mweka, Tanzania. My working experience has largely been with Community Based Organizations (Manyara Ranch Pastoral Association and Randilen Wildlife Management Area) for the past five years, mainly dealing with formulation and supervision of revolving loans fund (micro credit) initiatives for pastoral communities, sensitizing local communities on livestock breeds improvement, conservation education and anti-poaching operations. My professional training in natural resource management, rural development and community empowerment motivates me to confidently work within the Maasai Steppe landscape.

Meshurie Melembuki Manyara Ranch Livestock and Pastoralist Association (MRALIPA)

Major Successes


Community partnerships

AWF has engaged in landscape scale conservation in the Maasai Steppe for nearly two decades. Our work started with building a strategic vision for the landscape and supporting the National Parks to become robust conservation areas with world class tourism opportunities. With the core areas conserved, we then focused on building linkages in community lands through the establishment of six Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) which are designed to provide communities with tangible benefits in exchange for maintaining wildlife habitat in village lands.


Tourism support and benefit-sharing

Support provided to the National parks of Tarangire and Lake Manyara in terms of infrastructure and capacity development opened up new attractions which have made these two parks major destinations, with an increase of over 100% both in numbers of visitors and revenue. Wildlife management areas have been established, though their benefits are yet to be adequately felt at the household level.

Working Together

The people in the landscape work together through day-to-day cooperation in the establishment and management of conservation areas including the WMAs, forests, and parks. Village game and forest scouts collaborate with District officials, villages, the Wildlife Division, the Tanzanian National Parks Association (TANAPA), and research organizations such as the School for Field Studies to carry out biological assessments, protect crops from raiding wildlife, and counter poaching operations. Tour operators contribute revenues to conservation, assist in anti-poaching operations, and source products and services from communities in the landscape. Representatives from stakeholder groups come together on a bi-annual basis in the Tarangire Manyara Natron Kilimanjaro Ecosystem Working Group to share experiences, learn from one another, and develop strategies for overcoming challenges they face. These meetings have been raising issues which have in some cases influenced a change in decision making. For example, when the over-hunting of Gerenuk became a problem, resolutions of this meeting were sent to the Director of wildlife and hunting quotas were established. 

Related Publication

Related Blog Posts