Originally established as a cattle ranch during Tanzania's colonial period, Manyara Ranch remains an operating ranch with a relatively small herd of beef cattle and black-headed sheep. It is located in the middle of the crucial Kwakuchinja wildlife corridor connecting Lake Natron, Ngorongoro and Manyara wildlife areas to the Tarangire ecosystem and the Maasailands to the South. During 2000, the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) obtained management and conservation rights to the ranch to protect these wildlife corridors. In so doing, they established a working relationship with the Maasai, developing their community conservation projects and rehabilitating the ranch itself. The ranch is held in Trust by the Tanzania Land Conservation Trust (TLCT) for the benefit of the local communities and Tanzania.
To help sustain Manyara Ranch, a tourism development program was initiated which now offers facilities for visitors to experience the wildlife and culture in and around this vital wilderness area. Guests can enjoy a range of activities, some of which are rarely offered elsewhere in Tanzania.
There are several large dams on the ranch that attract and retain the wildlife within the conservancy area. There is a significant resident population of wildlife including groups of large bull elephants, breeding herds of giraffe, many lesser kudu, wildebeest, zebra, gazelle, oryx and eland. There are also predators, including lion, cheetah, leopard, hyena, jackal and bat-eared foxes. For many years, wild dogs have denned on the ranch.
The resident game population is continually being increased by wildlife moving through the migratory corridors. There is a large number of species of birds including many raptors on the ranch. Manyara Ranch has a variety of habitats, which include open savannah, acacia woodland, bush and riverine forest. These habitats support a large diversity of wildlife and birdlife.
Manyara Ranch Conservancy can be visited throughout the year. The green season occurs in April, May and June and again in November and December and brings with it a lush environment very different from the golden grass and reduced foliage that characterizes the dry season. Throughout the year, the Conservancy remains a haven for wildlife moving between the parks and protected game areas surrounding the Conservancy.