SAADANI NATIONAL PARK
Saadani National Park is the most recent addition to the vast national park system of Tanzania. It is East Africa’s only coastal wildlife reserve and offers the opportunity to see big game and bird life interacting with the sea. Geographically, Saadani falls under the East Africa coastal forest zone and became a national park only in 2003. The park is about 736 square miles. It is located 45 miles north of Bagamoyo and south of Pangani region. Currently, there are less than 1000 visitors per year.
Saadani National Park Activities
Activities in the park include game drives, boat safaris, walking safaris and bird watching. Big game inside the park include giraffe, buffalo, reedbuck, waterbuck, zebra, wildebeest, warthog, baboon, python, elephant(about 50 individuals recorded), hippos, Nile monitor lizards and crocodiles in the Wami River, black and white colobus monkey, blue monkey and tremendous bird life. Lion, leopard, hyena eland and yellow baboon can be found in the park, but not in large numbers. For a small park, the variety of eco-systems is impressive and this is the only location in the itinerary to learn about mangrove environments. Saadani also includes a green turtle-nesting site at Madete on the beach. Indigenous species include Liechtenstein’s hartebeest and the Roosevelt sable.
Saadani National Park Bird Species
There are a number of bird species in the Saadani eco-system that have a small distribution range. These birds are dependent upon the habitat that ranges from the sea to saline flats, open grassland, savanna and forest. Prominent acacia-savanna birds include lilac-breasted roller, weavers, fork-tailed Drongo, grey hornbill, ring-necked dove and grey-headed sparrow. Several species of bee-eaters are abundant in Saadani and the southern Ground Hornbill is numerous. Truly aquatic waders such as yellow-billed stork, grey heron, little egret, water dikkop and various species of sandpiper and kingfisher are common along the shore and banks of rivers. In terms of vegetation, Saadani offers four distinct areas – coastal forest, forest-savanna, mangroves and plantations. The vegetation in the coastal forest is under severe threat from expanding agricultural development and the cutting of trees for charcoal. The forest-savanna is dominated by palm grasslands, especially Hyphanae palms. Given the importance of mangroves to prawn fishing communities along the Saadani coastline, protecting the trees is a critical conservation issue. The type of vegetation in the plantations encompasses “exotics” or non-indigenous vegetation such as coconut plantations, mango trees, eucalyptus, Mvinje trees and Opuntia-a weedy cactus.