Wildlife of Zanzibar

Zanzibar certainly has its fair share of colourful wildlife. From rare monkeys to supposedly extinct leopards, it would be a crime to come to the island and not take some measure of interest in its flora and fauna.

Natural habitats on the island have been preverved in the formation of reserves and parks such as Ngezi forest reserve, Kiwengwa/Pongwe Forest Reserve, Kidike Root Site and  Zala Park. There is also several Marine Parks where you can admire aquatic species.

Many tourists come to the island to see the Zanzibar red colobus. This monkey is endemic to the main island, and it is thought there are just 1,600-3,000 individuals left. Around 50% of these live outside protected areas, but tourists may find there best chance of spotting one is in Jozani National Park.

Red Colobus monkeys in Jozani forest. Endemic to Zanzibar. Photo by Olivier Lejade, France

On the other hand, while The Zanzibar Leopard (Panthera pardus adersi) is thought to be extinct, with a just a few skins and a mounted specimen in the Zanzibar museum, reported sightings and conflicting reports from locals have created much debate as to its continuing presence in and around Jozani forest.

Other interesting and far more prevalent species include Pemba’s flying fox (a fruit-eating bat), Feral pigs introduced by the Portugese, the Pemba vervet monkey, dik-dik (like a mini gazelle), and pythons, chameleons, geckos, tortoises and crabs.

Zanzibar also boasts its fair share of interesting birdlife. Endemic species that frequent the island’s forests include the hadada, the African Goshawk, the palm-nut vulture, Scops owl, themalachite kingfisher, the Pemba white-eye and the colourful Fischer’s Turaco, to name just a few.

Fisher’s Turaco. Photo by Doug Janson (http://www.pbase.com/profile)

Moving down towards the sea, Zanzibar’s impressive collection of Marine Parks provide a haven for all sorts of interesting animal life. Green turtles, which are also on the endangered list, can be found nestled in large numbers at Mnemba Marine Park, located at the north-eastern part of the island. At the south-west end, you can find Menai Marine Park. Here you will discover species such as  moray eels, scorpion fish, octopuses, manta rays, lobsters, lion fish and dolphins.

Back inland you will also find a fantastic selection of inverterbrates. Giant land snail and millipedes can be found all over the island, while the large number of beautiful butterflies have provided the reasoning behind the Zanzibar Butterfly Centre, at Pete village.

The scope of this article only touches on the bounty of wildlife that you can discover in Zanzibar, but if you have visited the island, and have tales to tell of what parts of its ecology you discovered, please feel free to send us your comments.

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