Understanding attitudes of local leaders towards conservation issues in village areas surrounding protected areas is vital for the success of sustainable biodiversity conservation. This is because of the need of designing effective conservation programs outside protected areas and to reduce resource-based conflicts involving local communities and protected areas. Twenty villages in Karatu district located between Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) and Lake Manyara National Park (LMNP) were chosen for this study. The data were collected using semi-structured questionnaires administered to 133 local leaders in 20 villages. Findings indicated that attitudes of local leaders towards conservation in the village areas were positive. We observed that 90.3% of the village government members and 50% of the chairpersons considered charcoal making as detrimental to the environment and insignificant to the development of their villages. Majority of the respondents (80.0%) rated that village environmental conservation bylaws are having inadequate penalties for offenders in dealing with the current state of rapid environmental deterioration in village lands. The position of a leader was an important predictor as 87.4% of village chairpersons and 70.0% of the village government members were positive towards conservation in village lands. The implication of the results could be linked to conservation initiatives outside protected areas and understanding the attitudes and securing the support of local leaders.
Key words: Environmental conservation, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, wildlife conservation, local communities, protected areas.
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