- Published on Sunday, 08 September 2013 03:07
- Written by MARC NKWAME in Arusha
- Hits: 601
LAKE Victoria, the continent’s largest lake is a legend of its own starting with its position as a multi-nation fresh water body linking three East African countries namely, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
Sometimes referred to as Lake Nyanza, Lake Victoria is the main water reservoir for the River Nile. In Tanzania, however, Lake Victoria is one of the country’s tourist attractions, as it cocoons Rubondo Island.
This week Lake Victoria hatched yet another tourist attraction in the country’s leisure and travel industry. The former Saa Nane game reserve located some distance from Mwanza City was upgraded to become Tanzania’s 16th National Park.
Measuring just 2.2 square kilometres, the lush-green and rocky island has set a new record by becoming the country’s smallest National Park. Ruaha, in Iringa Region tops the bill as the largest, while Serengeti (the second largest) remains the most popular, Saa Nane, on the other hand, has an outstanding feature of its own.
The Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA) plans to use the floating Saa Nane Island as a centre for conservation and wildlife education as it is easily accessible compared to the other remotely located game parks.
“Students and other personalities wanting a glimpse of wildlife management or those who simply want to a weekend gateway will find Saa Nane an ideal destination,” said Mr Paschal Shelutete, the Public Relations Manager at TANAPA. As the tiny island has no roads, it means all tourist activities are undertaken on foot.
In other words keeping fit is another attraction at the rather hilly Saa Nane. In case one feels like changing his or her fortunes, then there is the Bombay Cove, a mysterious and a bit scary cliff which overlooks the lake where one gets a breathtaking view, the cove is believed to have mysterious healing properties.
You could even settle for gazelles, birds and reptiles and a few marine species; “We are going to introduce other species of animals at Saa Nane to boost the wildlife population,” added Mr Shelutete. The Island was named after its previous owner, Mzee Saanane Chawandi a fisherman turned farmer who was later relocateded to another island after compensation to pave way for conservation efforts in the early ‘60s.
Saa Nane started out in 1964 as the first government owned zoo, cages are still found on the Island, before it was upgraded to a Forest Reserve in 1991. It becomes the second National Park on Lake Victoria after Rubondo Island and coincidentally the wildlife on Rubondo was taken to Saa Nane.
Ms Haika John Bayona, Acting Conservator at Saa Nane National Park explained that the rocky island with its breathtaking scenic settings, natural growth and marine attractions pulls in a number of visitors from Mwanza and the surrounding Lake Zone regions.
Saa Nane Island National Park is a role model to other game parks when it comes to promoting domestic tourism, the Island used to get an average of 250 visitors per month and between 180 and 200 of those were Tanzanians.
After being endorsed, Saa Nane National Park includes two smaller islets namely, Chankende Kubwa and Chankende Ndogo located in the southern part of the main Island, thus increasing the protected area to 2.2 square kilometres including the water which surround the Isles.
TANAPA intends to conserve fish species at Saa Nane. Fishermen in Mwanza may benefit from the development as a section of the Island will serve as a breeding area for fish varieties.