Saanane Island National Park has recorded remarkable achievement by going above its targeted number of tourists for two years in a row as domestic tourism flourishes.
Saanane Chief Park Warden, Mr Donatus Bayona said here that the smallest park in the country has attracted more tourists from East African countries than those from abroad.
Mr Bayona said that about 90 per cent of tourists who visited the islet were locals, giving an example of 2015/16 that saw 11,000 local tourists call to the island.
Apart from game viewing through walking safaris, tourists can enjoy boat excursion in Lake Victoria, rock hiking, picnicking, walking along designated trails, canoeing with dhows along the lake. “Saanane was declared to be a national park in July 2013, before that it was a zoo and later a game reserve.
The number of tourists has been going up year after year, signalling that we are on the right track and domestic tourists form the biggest percentage,” said the chief. Mr Bayona unveiled that in 2013/14 the park has attracted 89 foreigners, 52 expatriates and 2,306 tourists from East Africa.
The trend improved in the following year as the islet had 132 foreigners, 32 expatriates and 5,947 East Africans.
The Chief Park Warden disclosed that in 2015/16 the park located two kilometres southwest of Mwanza City had 453 foreign tourists, 243 expatriates and 11,685 from East Africa.
Mr Bayona said that on the financial year 2014/15, Saanane Island National Park collected 129m/- while the target was to earn 85m/-. In 2015/16 they surpassed the target of 124m/- revenue by collecting 162m/-.
The only park that is located in a city targets promotion of interest and conservation education in wildlife and promote recreation to people as different species of animals have been ferried to the island between 1964 and 1966.
Those included buffalo, bushbuck, dik dik, elephant, eland, impala, black rhino, topi, warthog, wildbeast, zebra, giraffe, porcupine, crocodiles and monkeys like patas and velvet.
Dangerous animals were caged but are no longer in the cages now. However, Tourism Warden at the park, Mr Ikwabe Koroso said plans are underway to rebuild some cages so as to take such animals.
That is in different outlook, to provide sanctuary to the sick or injured ones and once fit would be returned where they were taken from.
Mr Bayona said the islet that forms spectacular scenery over Mwanza south and Lake Victoria currently has species such as impala, crocodiles, clawless otters, rock hyrax, tortoise and agama lizards famously referred to as agama mwanzae. Others are snakes, particularly pythons, lions, spotted hyenas, vervet monkeys and shy De Brazza’s monkeys.
There are more than 70 types of resident and migratory birds. The park, however, faces several challenges including environmental degradation around the park, human encroachment as well as poaching.
Source: Daily News