Daniel Yamat of the Eastern Serengeti Nature Refuge
We are excited to introduce you to Daniel, who in addition to his formal position as the manager of the Eastern Serengeti Nature Refuge, is an all-around wildlife and cultural ambassador for Tanzania. His love of animals led him to pursue a career as trained veterinarian, and his commitment to the community and to guest shows in everything he does.
What brought you to the Eastern Serengeti Nature Refuge?
It was a path that began in childhood. I grew up in Maasai village outside of Arusha, and was encouraged to attend school as a way to strengthen the community. While school is not traditional for all Maasai, our village began sending difficult children to school as punishment, but then realized the positive impact schooling had on the children and on the village as a whole.
After my post graduate studies in Wildlife Management I was working at the Arusha Society for the Protection of Animals. I learned about the opportunity at the Eastern Serengeti Natural Refuge and was excited at the opportunity to do even more to bring together the community and the wildlife that makes Tanzania so amazing.
What Can Guests Expect at the Refuge?
There is an abundance of wildlife, including elephant, giraffe, wildebeest, zebra, as well as African big cats such as lion and leopard species.
But in addition to the wildlife, guests will interact with local Maasai in an authentic and meaningful way. We don’t have staged tours or professional actors recreating the nomadic lifestyle. Instead, guests at the refuge will meet the Maasai at a nearby Boma (mud hut village). Here they might see women milking cows or creating traditional beadwork, or perhaps they will see children playing after school, or men returning with their cattle. It all depends on the day.
Giraffe roam near the Eastern Serengeti Nyumba Camp
What do you love most about Eastern Serengeti Nature Refuge?
I have always loved animals and now have the opportunity to manage an important element in the Tanzania ecosystem. Being here I have witnessed a renewed and thriving wildlife population, as well as a thriving tourism industry. I am most pleased that I can help these two elements co-exist through community education and tourism projects.
What Does Thriving Wildlife Mean for the Area?
A healthy wildlife population brings a healthy community. With an influx of tourism dollars comes important additions to the community such as schools and medical clinics.
Dedication ceremony for newly built medical dispensary in May
Anything else you’d like Tanzania travelers to know?
Wildlife conservation is not just about the animals. It’s a delicate balance of ensuring that the local community buys into conservation, and this requires education and commitment from villagers, government and tourists.
Lastly, I hope that all travelers leave Tanzania with a sense of the spirit of the country and the people. And I hope that when they return home, they continue to think about conservation and its impact on this planet we all share together.
Author: Thomson Safaris
Thomson Safaris has been providing photographic Tanzania safaris and Mount Kilimanjaro treks for over 35 years.