Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

14 December 2012

Tanzania: Saa-Nane Island Becomes New Tourist Destination

SAA-NANE Island of Mwanza has now been declared a new national Park. A new city based Game Park floating Island on Lake Victoria now makes a total number of the country's national parks to sixteen (16).

Officials say a new status was gazette in October this year after being ratified by the Tanzania National Assembly in Dodoma. Acting Conservator of the Saa- Nane National Park Ms Haika says that the move to grant the Island a new status is unprecedented as, "Saa- Nane Island has also made record as the first ever game park, which is located within a city centre.

Saa-Nane Island was named after its previous owner Mzee Saanane Chawandi, a fisherman, who turned a farmer later shifted to another Island (after being compensated) to pave way for conservation efforts in the early 1960s. The Tanzania government officially owned the Island in 1964 as the first ever government owned zoo.

Officials say Saa-Nane, which is being upgraded from its previous status as a forest reserve and wildlife acclimatization zone, is expected to increase the number of National Parks from the current 15 to 16 next year. It will be the second National Park to stride Lake Victoria, Africa's largest water body after Rubondo Island.

The Island is described as breathtaking scenic settings, natural growth and marine attraction has been pulling in many residents from Mwanza city and other surrounding areas. The Park Warden in charge of tourism, Ms Rukia Juma Mallya, says the new national park could be a role model to other game parks when it comes to promoting domestic tourism because, "Even now when the Island has yet to become a full fledged entity, the island used to get an average of 250 visitors per month and between 180 and 200 of those are locals mostly from Mwanza."

Saa-Nane Island is also going to be the smallest National Park in both Tanzania and East Africa, with its territory measuring some 0.7 square kilometres comprising of both dry land and water. The proposed Saa-Nane National Park will command a 200 metres perimeter of water South and 100 metres aquatic corridor in the North. But what should people expect to find at Saa-Nane Island?

"The proposed National park is home to mammals like the Impala, Rock Hyrax, Velvet Monkeys, Wild Cats, Clawless Otters and De-brazzas Monkeys, the aquatic part of the park will offer all types of fish, crocodiles, water snakes and Monitor lizards, other reptiles include tortoises, grass snakes, pythons and agama lizards." There are plans to introduce new animal species to boost the island's wildlife variety and the conservator reveals that soon Zebras, Grant Gazelles and Dikdiks will be included at Saa-Nane after an extensive study by zoological experts including scholars from the University of Dar-es-Salaam. Other attractions at Saa-Nane include the trademark, landmarks of Mwanza; the huge naturally designed rocky hills and landscapes, the lake view and natural vegetation decorated by a variety of birds' species, insects and flowers.

Lake Victoria can also be viewed nicely from the Island's protruding stone beacons including the famous and mystic 'Bombay' Cove. The Acting Conservator also says that after being endorsed, Saa-Nane National Park annexed and included other two smaller islets known as Chankende Kubwa and Chankende Ndogo both located in the southern part of the main island into the bargain thus increasing its protected area to 1.32 square kilometres.

"Local residents have asked us to take under our wing the two islands in order to curb illegal fishing, environment destruction as well as crime because the waters surrounding the two land features on Lake Victoria will be manned and patrolled by TANAPA wardens," she said. But what should people expect to find at Saa-Nane Island?

"The new National park is home to mammals like the Impala, Rock Hyrax, Velvet Monkeys, Wild Cats, Clawless Otters and De-brazzas Monkeys. The aquatic part of the park will offer all types of fish, crocodiles, water snakes and Monitor lizards, other reptiles include tortoises, grass snakes, pythons and agama lizards," explained Ms Bayona.

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