Every year, hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) in northern Tanzania. Widely considered to be one of the most spectacular landscapes on the planet, the NCA is home to 115 species of mammal alone, including the famed “Big Five” of the African safari scene: elephants, buffaloes, rhinos, leopards and lions. Long a staple of nature documentaries, the “great migration” of millions of wildebeest through Ngorongoro gives rise to cinematic showdowns between predators and prey. Archaeological discoveries made there have provided some of the best evidence that humankind itself originated in Africa.
But long before there were cameras, pickaxes, or 4x4s in Ngorongoro, there were the Maasai people. For hundreds of years, the Maasai have walked the plains of northern Tanzania, grazing cattle and building small clusters of fenced-in homes called boma. But despite predating the existence of the Tanzanian state, many of them say officials in charge of the NCA are doing everything they can to push them out of Ngorongoro.