`Wait here’ said our guide, leaving us amidst a thicket of bushes. She was going to check if there were any Red Colobus Monkeys in the vicinity. It was a warm afternoon and probably time for their siesta; mornings are when they are most active we were told. Taking us down another path she pointed to a few monkeys perched on trees nibbling away on some fruit.
The Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkey, found in the park, a rain forest species (unlike the black-and-white Colobus found in other regions of Africa) is one of the sort after residents of the forest, found only on the main island of Zanzibar.Well, red probably makes it sound more attractive but colour wise it’s more of a rust like colour. They seemed pretty meek and gentle creatures and were least interested in visitors clicking pictures.
We were visiting the Jozani Chwaka Bay Conservation Area, which lies about 35 km South-East of Zanzibar Town. The area consists of evergreen bush land, thickets, a variety of trees and a mangrove area.
After trampling through thickets in the hot sun, the walk through the Mangrove forest was a welcome change. Called the Mangrove Boardwalk, it entwines through thicket vegetation, mangrove forest and across a creek. The brackish water that flows through the mangrove is a nursery ground for different species of tropical fish, which can be seen feeding in the shallow waters.
The Jozani Forest area also hosts a sanctuary for Sea Turtles and the Tortoises. The small sea turtles are saved from perishing at the seashore, and are nursed in the centre until they are big enough to be released back into the sea. Our guide took the time to tell us about their turtle conservation project, an effort to conserve the population of Sea Turtles native to Zanzibar Island. We fed the turtles and took pictures while they we munching on the seaweed.
Our guide had to leave for the day so we explored the Jozani nature trail by ourselves. It’s a shady trail with lots of trees and a thick undergrowth of ferns.
The name `Jozani’ is taken from a small pond in the forest called `Mwajoza’. During the rainy season – from March through to May, much of the forest is flooded. We took the short trail but on the way sighted a board which said 7km, to where I don’t know, but we’ll be back to explore that!