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Climate Change Poses Threat to Pastoralist Communities

Walking across the plain in the 95 degree Farenheit heat, I marvel that the man beside me, Lekoko Torongei, seems perfectly comfortable in his bright red, woolen robes. Torongei, a 23-year-old Maasai warrior, is giving me and my group of 35 American tourists a tour of his village in northern Tanzania. The sizzling air blurs the huts in the distance, and as we approach, Torongei explains that the Maasai people were originally pastoralists, or nomadic cattle herders who moved throughout the savanna landscape.

But now that their rangelands have been dramatically reduced through wildlife preservation efforts and development, his community also has to farm (which is challenging given the overused soils and dry climate of the region), and relies increasingly on revenue from tourists. “The Serengeti is a world famous safari destination, but to the Maasai, this land is home,” Torongei says.

One of the most famous attractions in the Serengeti is the annual wildebeest migration. Serengeti National Park, which attracts over 90,000 tourists annually, experiences its peak visitor season during the migration. “It is a truly spectacular event … Wildebeest move through the ecosystem in search of green pasture, in a regular pattern,” Torongei says. “This is surely one of the greatest wonders of the natural world.”

Marc Veraart

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