TANZANIA, Africa (eTN) – Accompanied by his wife and other US embassy officials, the American Ambassador to Tanzania, Alfonso Lenhardt, last week made a special visit to Tanzania’s famous tourist park of Serengeti and the local Maasai villages where controversy over road construction and tourist hunting rights had dominated the global conservation media.
During his five-day tour of the Serengeti ecosystem alongside Maasai communities in northern Tanzania, the ambassador sought information and perspectives on the proposed road that would pass through the northern part of Serengeti National Park and which conservationists across the world had protested.
He also visited the black rhinos recently brought to the northern Serengeti from South Africa. In his comments, the ambassador stressed the need for more support to local communities living near tourist and wildlife sites in northern Tanzania.
While in Sukenya Maasai village, the ambassador visited community projects being financed by charity organizations, among them, Tanzania Conservation Limited (TCL), Focus on Tanzanian Communities (FoTZC), and Thomson Safaris, an American company.
Ambassador Lenhardt also presented a donation of several footballs and more than 300 children’s books. Thomson Safaris has made available the opportunity for young people to learn about the world and how that knowledge can change the Maasai communities towards a better life.
Thomson Safaris has been running travel philanthropic projects in northern Tanzania, and last year, the Tanzania Tourist Board honored this company with the 2009 Conservation Award primarily for its community-based initiatives at the Enashiva Nature Refuge, where it frequently brings its guests.
Focus on Tanzanian Communities (FoTZC) is a US-based NGO that collaborates with Tanzanian communities throughout northern regions to overcome economic and social challenges through a working partnership that directs resources towards sustainable projects.
Tanzania Conservation Limited is an independent Tanzania-registered organization that oversees community and conservation efforts at the Enashiva Nature Refuge, works with Thomson Safaris to support ecotourism initiatives, and collaborates with FoTZC on community projects in the area.