Conservation in Zanzibar: Day 1

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Hi, my name’s Gianna, and I’m a Horticulturalist at Zoo New England. Thanks to a grant from the Zoos’ Jonathan Gilmour Memorial Scholarship Fund, I’m working as a World Unite! conservation volunteer in the Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park, a tropical rain forest on Zanzibar Island. My two-week program is conservation-focused, so I can put what I’ve learned at the Zoo to work here in Zanzibar, plus gain amazing new skills and experiences. Here’s a look at what I’ll be working on while I’m here:

  • Development and planning for a nature trail that focuses on conservation and fostering community respect for nature
  • Horticulture work in mangrove forest, planting shoots and seeds to fill in areas where humans have cut down trees
  • Browse list creation and propagation of plants for Aldabra giant tortoise and zanzibar red colobus
  • Maintenance of organic gardens
  • Zookeeping and exhibit maintenance of rescued green sea turtles, baby Aldabra giant tortoises, terrapin turtles, kinixys tortoises, radiated tortoises, a monito lizard, and Africa coral rock pythons
  • Conservation education and assistance at a local school

I’ll be updating you on my daily activities here on the blog, starting with today, Day One!

DAY ONE

Jambo! (hello!)

The flight was long, (26 hours!) But I finally make it!

I just completed my first full day of conservation work. We rode bikes (our main mode of transportation) to a beach a couple of miles away to collect seaweed to be used by the local conservation center to feed their turtles. The center rescues endangered reptiles from poachers and holds them until they reach maturity before releasing them back into the wild. They care for green sea turtles, Aldabra giant tortoises, monitor lizards, African coral rock pythons, Kinixys tortoises, radiated tortoises, and terrapin turtles, all of which are endangered or severely endangered.

They also raise fish, and villagers can use the center’s greenhouses to grow food to help offset the impact of the Zanzibar red colobus from stealing their food crops. These monkeys are often treated as pests, so offering a safe place for farmers to grow their crops helps improve their relationship with local wildlife.

Volunteers filling tree seedling plugs with soil

During our visit, we learned about how the center works to educate the community about wildlife and the importance of wildlife conservation, and their hopes for the center’s future.

We fed the turtles before heading back to the camp for lunch, and then went to our next activity, in which we worked on a local farm filling seedlings plugs for native trees.

Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!

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