Minister tasks NCCA to up efforts to conserve Laetoli footprints

MINISTER for Natural Resources and Tourism, Dr Pindi Chana has directed the administration of the Ngorongoro Conservation Authority (NCAA) to continue strengthening the conservation activities of ancient attractions including the Laetoli Footprints.

Dr Chana revealed this over the weekend after visiting Laetoli footprint trackway at NCAA in Enduleni Ward of Ngorongoro District, Arusha Region.

She said the conservation of the hominid trackway at Laetoli footprint was crucial for the country to continue attracting tourists.

“The presence of footprints along with other ancient attractions is one of the important tourism products for Tanzania,” she said.

Also, Dr Chana has directed the NCAA management in collaboration with archaeologists to continue maintaining and preserving those ancient sites for future generations.

“It is important that we preserve and conserve them. My belief is, if we will continue to collaborate with archaeological experts, we will promote this area and becomes a springboard to increase the goals of reaching 5 million visitors and collect 6billion US dollars (about 14tri/-) income from the tourism sector by 2025,” said Dr Chana.

Laetoli, a paleoanthropological site in Northern Tanzania, is perhaps best known for its famous fossil hominid footprints dated to 3.7 million years ago. They were discovered by scientist Mary Leakey and her co-workers in 1978.

The site not only preserves the hominid footprints but also track ways, which provide a snapshot of Pliocene faunal communities from East Africa and their inferred environments.

However, scientists who occasionally visited the Laetoli site began to voice concern that the roots from trees would penetrate and eventually destroy the hominid trackway.

On his side, the NCAA Deputy Conservation Commissioner Dr Christopher Timbuka said they are working closely in collaboration with scientists, archaeological researchers and UNESCO to conserve the hominid trackway at Laetoli footprint.

“We need to make them clear, so that they can be used for research, education, and tourism activities as well as putting in in place an enabling infrastructure so that they are not damaged,” said Dr Timbuka.

Also, the NCAA Head of Cooperate Services Directorate Mr Needpeace Wambuya said that the authority will continue to improve the road infrastructure from Olduvai to Laetoli in order to enable tourists to reach and see the attractions located in the South West Zone of the NCA.

He also explained to the minister that due to the sensitivity and uniqueness of the Laetoli footprints area, the NCAA has considered the area to be strategic in order to attract more tourists’ investors to the country.

The NCAA Senior Assistant Conservation Commissioner (SACC) and the Head of Cultural Heritage Section Eng Joshua Mwankunda noted that the Laetoli footprints are the only area in the world with scientific evidence that the first human being in the world stood on his own two feet.

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