Mwanza — The Zanzibari government is mulling over a decision to elevate the status of two tourists attractions of Bawe and Changuu (Prison) Islands into protected reserves.
The aim is to protect both marine and the biodiversity of the two islands including security in a multi-million dollar tourism project run by a Tanzanian company, Leasure Hotels.
The Zanzibar Minister for Information, Culture, Tourism and Sports Said Ali Mbarouk said recently the Ministry is preparing a special program that would be presented to the government.
Two other islands, Mnemba and Chumbe, are already protected and have an area that is prohibited from any activity apart from conservation.
Mnemba Island lies within a Marine Sanctuary and is the only protected environment for nesting green turtles that come ashore year round to lay their eggs.
Chumbe Island is a small privately owned island a few kilometres off of the main island of Zanzibar, known for its ecological innovation and exceptional coral reefs.
In 1994, the island and its surrounding waters were declared the Chumbe Island Coral Park, which contains the Chumbe Reef Sanctuary and the Closed Forest Reserve-it's a protected area.
Minister Mbarouk was responding to a request made by Leasure Hotels Director of Operations Freddy Tenga when presenting progress report during Zanzibar's Second Vice President Ambassador Seif Idd tour of Bawe and Changuu islands recently.
Tenga said the two islands of Chumbe and Mnemba are protected, but his company has made several requests to be considered for the same status, but no response was coming from the government.
He told the Vice President that the two islands of Bawe and Changuu need special status because there had been intruders who not only threaten the security of tourists and staff, but were also vandalizing the water infrastructure.
The Vice President Seif Idd said he was impressed by what is taking place at the two islands of Bawe in both protecting the environment and in hotel management.
The two islands of Bawe and Changuu are connected by a fresh water pipe from Mtoni, Zanzibar but fishermen have been a threat to the water pipe and coral reefs.
This is the only freshwater pipe connecting Zanzibar to tourist hotels in the Indian Ocean islands. It was fully financed by Leasure Hotels.
Mnemba Island is protected and cares for large biodiverse land and island environment whilst supporting the wildlife and local communities.
It's this status the two islands of Bawe and Changuu are asking from the Zanzibar government-that part of their area be protected and therefore disallows people from entering such areas.
Considering the investments at the two islands and the flow of tourists, Tenga said there is need by the Zanzibar government to declare the two islands as being protected areas.
Changuu Island is a home for the biggest numbers of tortoise now numbering 123. These are managed by the company staff including a fulltime veterinary doctor.
Both Changuu and Bawe are under Leasure Hotels a wholly-owned company by Hotels & Lodges (Tanzania) Limited that owns and manages hotels and lodges with more that 1,000 beds throughout Tanzania.
Among them being Lake Manyara Hotel, Ngorongoro Wildlife Lodge, Seronera, Lobo Lodge, Tembo Lodge, Zanzibar Safari Club and Changuu and Bawe. Changuu and Bawe islands have 88 beds in total.
Leasure Hotels also has been active in advertising Zanzibar tourism abroad. The company has been participating in international tourism exhibitions like WTM London, Fitur Spain, BIT Italy, ITB Germany and INDABA, SouthAfrica.