Saadani National Park

Saadani’s wildlife population is increasing during recent years after it has been gazetted as a National Park and was a hunting block beforehand. Wildlife in Saadani includes four of the Big Five, namely East African lions, African bush elephants, buffaloesand African leopards. Masai giraffes, Lichtenstein’s hartebeest, common waterbucks, blue wildebeests, bohor reedbucks, common and red duikers, Dik-Diks, yellow baboons, vervet monkeys, blue monkeys, black-and white Colobus monkeys, civets, mongooses, genet cats, porcupines, sable antelopes, warthogs, hippopotamus, crocodiles, nile monitors are also found in the park.
By law, setting aside areas for conservation has to be consulted on, at least to some extent, with affected villages. However, it was not until late in 2005 that the village of Saadani and leaders of its Uvinje sub-village realized that the full extent of Uvinje’s lands was gazetted as part of the park. This despite numerous communications taking place since the early 2000s where village leaders continuously reiterate that Uvinje lands have never been a part of the reserve and that they will not vacate their lands . Important park establishment documents illustrate that TANAPA’s argument for gazetting lands from two Saadani coastal sub-villages is that they have always being part of the former game reserve, an argument that seem to have allowed them to move forward gazetting the coastal lands without coming to an agreement with the leaders at that time, who have reiterated that they did not agree to giving coastal lands to TANAPA.

Saadani National Park Map and extent of former village lands now gazetted as park lands.
In summary, the SNP boundaries and lands have been officially contestedby District authorities and no less than 6 villages, while at least 4 adjacent villages are engaged in higher level advocacy to have park boundaries reassessed. However, of all the villages, it is Saadani which faces the greatest challenges on the gazetting of a large part of its coastal territory which, by all accounts, has been done unilaterally. Saadani is also the village with the largest strip of coastal land.
At present, and after more than a decade of institutional struggles, Saadani village has resisted TANAPA’s various approaches to take possession of the now sub-village’s gazetted territory and have consistently demanded that their land rights be restored, and continue to reiterate that they are not going to give their traditional territory for any amount of compensation money. Such community assertions and actions certainly challenge traditional conceptions of economic gain as the central motivation in park community-conflicts, and suggest that deeply rooted spatial-cultural territorial connections are as essential as and perhaps even more important to people’s collective welfare than material benefits.
To this day, park governance and management approaches have been unable to gain the support of surrounding villages, which traditionally have been very conservation minded, for addressing poaching and for collaboratively sustaining landscape level conservation efforts. All of which are desperately needed to combat the sevenfold increase in poaching activity being faced by the park in the last seven years. No less than 10 of the 17 villages adjacent to the park have their own community-conserved areas, equivalent to no less than 20% of area identified as park lands. Despite the level of environmental awareness of these adjacent villages and the importance of corridors and ecosystem connectivity to successful ecological conservation, the villages’ conservation efforts have not been linked to park efforts but at present represent a threat to park authorities. For park authorities, it is within villages’ conserved areas where more often than not poaching is seen to be taking place.

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