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Saadani park shaping up as world-famous tourist centre

Discussion in 'Habari na Hoja mchanganyiko' started by Ngongo, Feb 22, 2009.

  1. Ngongo

    Ngongo JF-Expert Member

    Feb 22, 2009
    Joined: Sep 20, 2008
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    The famous fishing camp-cum-village of Saadani, barely three hours drive north of Dar es Salaam along the Indian Ocean, will soon go into history books as the growing volume of tourists visiting the three-year old Saadani National Park, attracts investors in the land sector.

    ``In five years to come, the village you are seeing now will no longer exist following the great intensity of tourists coming to this rare park that combines the bush, the river and the sea,`` remarked Chief Park warder Hassan Mohammed Nguluma this week.

    Nguluma heads the newest national park with its main offices at Pangani in Tanga Region.

    Pangani, Handeni and Bagamoyo districts, the first two in Tanga regions and the third in Coast, are home of Saadani National Park.

    Already, villagers of Saadani are saying the park is promising them an economic leap although they are quick to vent their frustrations at the way the animals from the wild, observing that they know no boundaries, venture into their households and sometimes help themselves to chicken and goats.

    Baboons enter the compounds of the villagers, spot the domesticated animals and snatch them. To them it is relish, but not so much of a delight to the owners!

    A group of local journalists toured the park and the village on Thursday. The welcoming site of warthogs sharing grazing with goats left many awed.

    ``Indeed this is a rare sight, and I?ll live never to forget it,`` amazed Rashid Kejo, Features Editor of one of the publications of Mwananchi Communications Limited based in Dar es Salaam, reflected while equally excited Noor Shija from Uhuru newspaper also in the city, quickly reciprocated:

    ``Oh, my God! Does the world know this? Never had I witnessed such an atmosphere, and I guess this is the only place under the sun for the budding tranquility between the ones from the wilderness and the others completely used to live at the care of homes.``

    The warthogs did not seem disturbed by the presence of people either. They continued to enjoy dust-bathing a couple of steps away from where people, including the visiting press corps, were staring in bewilderment as the local residents were freely moving in their daily undertakings.

    Each group member in the excursion internalized individual fears from the warthogs in their midst, what with their two pairs of tusks protruding from the mouth, used as weapons against predators!

    The fears were, apparently, unfounded. These animals from the vast 1270 sq km park continued digging through application of the tusks, although at one point a tour guide warned that the tusks are also a weapon in combat with other hogs or defence against predators, cautioning that the lower set can inflict severe wounds.

    Long staying within the precincts of dangers offers some kind of immunity, sometimes effectively establishing a certain kind of affinity, although the press group could not go that far, lightly brushing any suggestion of camping in the national park at areas of game concentration.

    Driving through the park to the disturbed gazelles, antelopes and giraffes, whose disturbance was later clarified to be past attributes from haunts of poaching and legal hunting, the three four-wheel-drive vehicles got suddenly stuck in mud.

    The vividly shaken ?press tourists? turned to their guides to ask for advice on what to do when faced with such situations. It was a completely new turn!

    Again, an hour-and-a-half spell in the bush land was another uneventful event, despite occational worries, given the likelihood of lions lurking in the vicinity.

    It is during dry seasons that tourists are advised to visit the only park in Africa that has both marine and terrestrial resourceful habitats as it is easily accessible, although it is beautifully greener during rainy periods.

    Where-the-Bush-meets-the-Sea is the catchy phrase describing the Saadani National Park, which was a game reserve until four years ago.

    Lions, buffalos, waterbucks, baboons and other wild animals make visits and stay at Madete beach, especially during the night.

    A bridge at river Wami where old Tanga-Bagamoyo road crosses the river can reduce the ground distance by half, from the present 220km from Dar es Salaam through Chalinze, or Msata and Miono from Bagamoyo town.

    Green Sea Turtles are estimated to be about 3,000 in a 64 sq km area. They have their breeding and nesting habitat in the national park which also boasts of 220 species of birds in a coastal forest, including that of the mangrove Wami river estuary.

    The rich historical remains and diversified cultures of German, Arab, Indian and Swahili are strongly established, apart from the heavy presence of all the terrestrial animals, including the big five except the rhinoceros.

    The pristine and clean beach with glittering sand caught the interest of the journalists who trekked five kilometers on the sand to have a glimpse of the hatchery of turtles, whose life style is completely a different story, to come at a later.

    During the last tourist season alone, 3,700 tourists visited the park, according to officials at Saadani tourism office, but only a fraction came from Tanzania. They said the volume was increasing on annual basis since the park?s establishment.

    While authorities are in agreement that many investors will eye Saadani village as a centre for economic investment to cash in on a tourist boom, the locals feel they will be denied opportunities and exposed to loss of tradition.

    Kibaya Robert is a businessman-cum-fisherman in the village who lashes at the park authorities for introducing several rules that snatch from them some of their traditional freedom and use of the area.

    ``The restriction to cross the gate between 6am and 6pm is alien to us. And we cannot reach our area from the road without crossing it,`` the infuriated Kibaya said in an interview.

    His remarks were suddenly echoed by senior citizen Rashidi Kingimali, charging that they were living in humiliation as they are not allowed to use even firewood from the places where they were normally getting it.

    Another senior citizen, Asha Fundi, finds that the park is dealing them a big blow with its rules and regulations, although she accepts the fact that it is a national venture with highly promising economic benefits.

    While noting the changes in the lifestyles of the people of Saadani, authorities and villagers alike predict adaptations to the changes which will jointly be agreed upon by both parties.

    SOURCE: Sunday Observer