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The Project: Create a New National Park in East Africa
[This project has been completed]

Map of African Project

Since the formulation of the project in 1999, the development of the new Mkwaja-Saadani National Park in Tanzania, East Africa, has become the primary goal of Fondo per la Terra - Earth Fund, an Italian NGO working worldwide for bio-diversity conservation.

Fondo per la Terra is aiming to purchase the 280 sq km Mkwaja North Ranch from a Swiss company and to thereafter donate it to the Tanzanian Government. The Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Zakira Menji, has declared her desire to incorporate the donated land into a new protected area system incorporating the current Saadani Game Reserve, the South Mkwaja Ranch (bought in 1997 and donated to the Tanzanian government with the assistance of the European Union) and Zaraninge Proposed Forest Reserve. Her plan is to give the new area full national park status, affording it much stronger protection than at present.

The idea to preserve the area came from a local community whose livelihood is primarily based on marine resources and, as such, does not conflict with the conservation efforts in the reserve. The absence of any permanent settlements within the Mkwaja North area increases its suitability for future conservation work.

The park will contain a mosaic of distinctive and rare habitats. Most obviously, and unique in East Africa, is the beach and salt grass flats along the Indian ocean facing Zanzibar. Among the large mammals found is the rare Roosevelt sable antelope (Hippotragus niger roosevelti) and the beach areas contain one of the last significant breeding beaches in East Africa for the green turtle_0912_ (Chelonia mydas).

Several places on the coast, particularly at the mouth of the Wami river, contain large and still well preserved mangrove swamps. This habitat differs dramatically from Zaraninge, an area of lowland Tanzanian coastal forests, which along with the Eastern Arc mountains has been identified as one of the 25 global biodiversity hotspots in most urgent need of immediate conservation action. Populations of wildebeest, zebra, and eland, which had been exterminated, have been successfully re-introduced since the Game Reserve was founded nearly 30 years ago. The Tanzania Game Department has pursued a campaign to preserve and re-develop wildlife numbers in the face of very limited resources, considerable local sport hunting, and a tradition of game harvesting for food.

Create a New National Park in East Africa!

African Park from above

After the park is established the total area will be almost 1,000 sq. kilometers (250,000 acres). The area has not been studied in depth, but the presence of many different ecosystems concentrated in a relatively small area suggests an incredibly high level of biodiversity.

The area in the north is dominated by a rare example of coastal lowland mosaic, presenting an exceptional variety of habitats, including 5 woodland types, 2 forest types, coastal thicket, semi-arid scrub, grassland, wetlands, saltmarshes, mangroves and beaches; elephants, buffaloes, large antelopes, and the very rare Giant brown bat (Scotophilus gigas) are typically found in the north, formerly partially used as a cattle ranch.

The Indian Ocean Coast forms the Eastern border of part of the park, which includes several pristine sand dunes and very interesting vegetation types. This area is considered one of the last strongholds of the endangered green turtle in Tanzania.

In the south it is possible to spot African buffaloes, zebras, giraffes, several antelopes species and lions. The southern boundary is represented by the Wami river that, with its delta, represents an incredibly complex ecosystem with a large number of water birds including the greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus), high concentration of cetacean on the delta and right on the river, mangrove forests and important population of crocodiles and hippos.

To the west lies the most important biological asset of the whole area: the Zaraninge Forest, 200 square kilometers (50,000 acres) of closed canopy tropical forest, one of the larger coastal forests in Tanzania and part of the "Eastern Arc and Coastal Forest for Kenya and Tanzania Hotspot". The area hosts several internationally scarce species including 8 mammals, 10 birds, a new species of reptile (dwarf gecko), one amphibian (Hyperolius parkeri), an endemic snail and many other species of invertebrates.

Create a New National Park in Africa!

Create a New National Park in Africa!

21.6 sq. ft./sponsor

For more info:
Fondo per la Terra - www.fondoperlaterra.org

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