Largest remaining stand of near-natural forest on Zanzibar

ZANZIBAR: THE Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park is a 50km2-national park in Tanzania located on Zanzibar Island. It is the only national park in Zanzibar.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, the park site occupies “the largest remaining stand of near-natural forest on Zanzibar.” The forest rests upon a reef limestone marine terrace.

Habitats within the park and associated protected lands include a groundwater forest, coastal forest, and grassland, with mangroves and salt marsh at the coast.

The vegetation types found within the park once existed throughout Zanzibar. Zanzibar red colobus, Procolobus kirkii found in the park, a rain forest species (unlike the black-and-white colobus found in other regions of Africa), is also known as Kirk’s red colobus, named after Sir John Kirk, the British Resident of Zanzibar who had first brought it to the attention of zoological science.

It is now adopted as the flagship species for conservation in Zanzibar, from the mid-1990s. Other species of fauna found in the park are the Sykes monkey, bush babies, more than 50 species of butterfly and 40 species of birds.

The nocturnal Zanzibar tree hyrax, which has four ‘toes’ on its front feet and three on its back, is said to be the first hyrax species that has acclimatized to the forest. As part of the tourism circuit, the park attracts 10 per cent of the over 100,000 visitors to Zanzibar every year.

Wild life attractions of Zanzibar also include dolphins apart from deep sea fishing for tuna, marlin, and shark.

Another animal in the forests of the Unguja Island unequalled elsewhere is the Zanzibar leopard (Panthera pardus adersi). In the local legend, this reportedly extinct species, has been given a mythical status and is called ‘Chui’ and is part of the superstitious beliefs of the people.

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