Ndarakwai – the area was named long ago by the Maasai after native cedar trees – was farmed and ranched when Tanganyika was a German Colony. Some of the current Ranch boundary markers (beacons) are German. The ranch saw significant action during WW1 and trenches can still be found on the farm. After WW1 the area was ranched by the British through Independence in 1961 and into the 70’s.
Ndarakwai was one of a number of “West Kili” farms that was nationalized in about 1975. Between then and 1994 unregulated grazing, tree cutting, and rampant poaching, decimated the ranch’s grasslands and drove out the elephant and other wildlife. The area fast became a waste-land.
In 1995, Peter Jones (owner of Tanganyika Film & Safari Outfitters) committed himself to restoring the Ranch’s health to support wildlife populations – at the time a bold experiment in self-sustaining conservation and unique in Tanzania. The impacts of his consistent efforts have been profound.
With protected trees and vegetation, there is now less run-off after the rains, the water table has risen and grass resources improved. Removing the large herds of cattle allowed the grass lands to flourish, and there has been an increase in the variety of grass species now found on the Ranch.
Today, elephant, zebra, eland, giraffe, wildebeest, gerenuk, lesser kudu, and mountain reedbuck are among the permanent residents. Cheetah are frequently seen and lions have been resident since December 2010.