The word sanctuary refers to rescue, security, and shelter combined. A wild animal can only get placed in a sanctuary when threatened and adversely affected by human actions eg: poaching, hunting, development. Sanctuaries are places which visitors to national parks, and game reserves like to hear spoken often. The bad news is that poachers themselves can pose as sanctuary providers and now use the word themselves quite often further adding injury to an already volatile wildlife ecosystem.
But for the good guys, who include you and me, a wildlife sanctuary means a nice place to stay for the animals that have been injured or abandoned. So where are the wildlife sanctuaries in Tanzania?
There exist many wildlife sanctuaries in Tanzania which are genuinely doing fantastic work, rescuing and rehabilitating animals in distress. Here are a few:
The Amani Nature Sanctuary, located in the Usambara mountain region is home to 340 bird species that are globally threatened. This little-known sanctuary is a magnet to many birdwatchers, and hosts other threatened small antelopes, monkeys, and giant elephant-shrew.
The sanctuary is accessible via Moshi and Tanga and offers decent accommodation, although visitors are few.
Kitulo National Park was gazetted in 2006 for its floral importance. Located between Livingstone and Poroto mountains the 400 plus sq km park consists of a plateau referred to as BustaniyaMunguthat offers protection to a spectacular wildflower display.
Some plant species, including orchids, red-hot pokers, giant lobelias, lilies, and aloes are found here.
Animals are few but include eland, reedbuck, butterflies, frogs, and lizards.
Udzungwa national park is a sanctuary that accommodates some 400 plus bird species, and some of its most noteworthy species include partridges and oriole. It also hosts some three endemic monkeys: colobus, Sanje crested and Kipunji.
Visitors are few as the sanctuary is not a popular game viewing destination and the many hikers, primate lovers and birdwatchers are discouraged by the little tourist development in the area.
Visitors are welcome for a half-day walk through Sanje waterfalls and also attempt the more challenging Mwanihana Trail, which can cover two days.
A few budget hotels lie close to the entrance gate.
Situated on an island, this little-visited park is set in the remote enclave of Lake Victoria and is an island measuring 240 sq km. It was designed to hold chimpanzees, giraffes, elephants, and the black and white colobus monkey but the plan was abandoned in 1973.
Today the only inhabitanst are the Sitatunga Antelope, and forest birds such as the fish eagle and the grey parrot.
This is a mangrove forest in Zanzibar that is well known for being the place where you can see the red colobus monkey in its natural habitat. There are other species of birds and animals that abound here. Many nature lovers visit this reserve to photograph the animals and birds here.
Other sanctuaries scattered throughout the country include:
• Minziro forest reserve
• Mkomazi game reserve