Laetoli site to be managed by Ngorongoro Conservation

Archaeological site and Olduvai Gorge Museum to be managed by NCAA

The Tanzanian government is in the process of transfering the management of Tanzania's ancient Laetoli archaeological site to Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) from the antiquity department of the ministry of natural resources and tourism.

Located about 250km west of Arusha, the 23-m volcanic rock site along the Laetoli river bed contains a set of 3.6 million-year-old human footprints, believed to be the oldest link to our hominid ancestors.

The nearby Olduvai Gorge Museum, a small facility established in the late 1970s by Mary Leakey, the celebrated British paleoanthropologist who discovered the ancient footprints in 1978, will also be supervised by the NCAA. Leakey’s find was hugely significant as the tracks were devoid of knuckle or hand prints, proving that 3.6 million years ago man walked upright.

The footprints drew visitors until 1995 when they were reburied by authorities with an elaborate protective layer after they appeared to deteriorate. Last year a team of archaeologists from the US began fresh excavation at the Laetoli site in an attempt to discover more hominid footprints.

The long-term proposal is to build a high-tech “Jurassic dome” scientific museum over the site, which would cost an estimated $30 million. However there is no clear indication when the museum will be built.

For more about the Olduvai Gorge project