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Saadani National Park

Tanzania’s only protected coastal wildlife preserve was gazetted in 1964. It covers an area of some
250 sq km from the Wami river in the south to the Mligaji river in the north, with the Moshi railway
line as the western boundary. Saadani is located in what is historically a very important coastal
strip emerging as an important trading post, appearing on maps from the early 19th century. The
village also contains a ruined fort, built by Arab slavers in the last century. This fort later became a German Boma
(administrative center) after 1888.
From East to West, the open ocean with coral reefs changes to brackish water ecosystems characterized by mangrove
forests, salt pans and bare saline areas. Further inland, the Wamiriver is the most important fresh water source
besides numerous temporary rivers and dams. The marine extension of the park includes the Mafui sandbanks,
whose colourful coral reefs are important breeding sites for many fish species. At low tide the sea retreats up to
100 meters and forms a convenient passage for local people and wild animals. These beaches are the only place
North of Dar es Salaam where sea turtles still come to lay their eggs. The most common species is the Green Turtle
(Cheloniamydas,kasauziwa), the largest of the hard-shelled sea turtles. Besides
nest thieves on the beach, turtles are particularly threatened by commercial
fisheries and water pollution.
Evergreen mangrove trees grow in the transitional zone, just above the mean
sea water level. These salt tolerant tidal forests provide a resting and feeding
place for many bird species, bats, monkeys, hippos and reptiles. Numerous
species of fish or prawns also lay their eggs in these protected habitats. The
high demand for the resistant mangrove wood leads to overexploitation, making
the protection of these forests even more important. In Saadani National Park,
large mangrove forests grow along the Wami River. This is also the place where
large groups of hippos (Hippopotamus amphibius,Kiboko) can be observed.
The Wami River is also a good place for watching birds such as kingfishers,
fish eagles and many species of wading birds.
Forests play an important role in protecting the soil against erosion and thus
regulate  the  water  cycle.  They  are  especially  vulnerable  to  illegal  logging,
charcoal   production   and   farming
expansion.  Besides  the  two  large  forests  of  Zaraninge  and  Kwamsisi,  many
of  the  smaller  patches  of  forest  and  shrubs  represent  important  habitats  for
animals.
In  Saadani,  elephants  (Loxodontaafricana,  tembo  or  ndovu)  are  relatively
shy  and  usually  hide  during  the  day  in  woody  parts  of  the  Park.  Leopards
(Pantherapardus,chui)  also  occur  in  dense  bush  and  thickets.  Seldom  seen,
these  animals  are  mainly  nocturnal  and  can  live  in  close  proximity  to
humans. Other showy animals living mostly in woody areas are the Greater
kudu  (Tragelaphusstrepsiceros,  andala)  and  smaller  antelopes  such  as  Suni
(Neotragusmoschatus,paa) and Duiker (Cephalophus sp.,funo). The crowns of
the trees are inhabited by Colobus monkeys (Colobusguereza,mbega) which,
unlike most other monkeys, subsist mainly on leaves, strictly nocturnal bush
babies (Galagos sp., komba), as well as many fruit-eating bird species, insects
and butterflies.

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