Located in the beautiful Masai Steppe, the Lake Natron Game Controlled Area is marked by the two volcanoes, Mount Gelai and Lengai. Lake Natron itself is a soda lake that attracts an abundance of bird life including thousands of flamingos. The area hosts a pristine forest reserve and grass plains that extend into the Rift Valley. The Natron plains area is covered with classic flat-topped acacia trees, interspersed by mountains, rocky hills and scenic sand rivers.
This Masailand area is known for its Grant’s gazelle, gerenuk, lesser kudu, fringe-eared oryx, leopard, Thomson’s gazelle, dik-dik, zebra, wildebeest, ostrich, impala, klipspringer, eland, steinbuck, jackal, baboon and Chandler’s mountain reedbuck.
The Lake Natron concession is unique in that it is located exclusively on village and tribal land. FCF is very proud of their two dedicated patrol commanders who maintain supportive stakeholder relationships while still enforcing illegal activities appropriately.
Charcoal poaching is a big problem in this area. With the continuing growth of nearby city Arusha, there is a constant unsustainable demand for this fuel source. The illegal animal hide trade, especially in zebra skins, targets the Natron areas and FCF is finding that a lot of illegal ivory is trafficked through this area.
The Lake Natron concession is unique being located on village land, rather than in a game reserve where human settlement is prohibited. This situation creates an extremely close relationship between the communities, the wildlife, and the natural resources. FCF works closely with the villages to educate them about the benefits of sustainable natural resource use.
Each year the villages receive community benefits from funds generated through safaris. The villages then decide how these funds should be allocated to best serve their needs. Generally, these funds go towards rehabilitating clean water sources, student scholarships, and school construction.
Lake Natron is an exceptional natural area, one of only two natural soda lakes in the Rift Valley. It is also recognized as a Ramsar International Wetland of Importance. Lake Natron is the only regular breeding ground for the lesser flamingo in East Africa and supports an estimated 100,000+ individual bird species. FCF conducts work from the eastern shore of Lake Natron all the way to Longido and surrounding Monduli Mountain.
FCF and the Tanzanian Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) are studying key species in the Natron and Monduli areas, in particular the fringe-eared oryx, the lesser kudu and the gerenuk. In 2007, the lesser kudu and the gerenuk were surveyed using a modified road strip methodology. In order to survey the oryx, FCF has proposed a modified aerial total count, which is specific to this elusive species of antelope.
In 2005, 2006 and 2008, FCF played a major role in assisting Dr. Alfred Kikoti, a respected elephant researcher based in northern Tanzania. Kikoti fastened satellite collars on fourteen elephants and monitored their movements to determine wildlife corridors outside the protected area network. The study also assisted the local communities in human-elephant conflict. Future activities for his project include population surveys and deployment and redeployment of satellite collars.