I work with Fauna & Flora International at the East African branch. We have been partners with the Department of Commercial Crops, Fruits and Forestry (DCCFF) Zanzibar for over 5 years. We have been working towards the conservation of the indigeneous forests and their resident endemic species in particular the Pemba Flying Fox. We have recently returned from an evaluation of progress made and brought back a collection of photographs. Hope you enjoy seeing beautiful Pemba!
Ngezi Vumawimbi Nature trail interpretation board
Road through the Ngezi Forest leading to the Ngezi Vumawimbi beach
Ngezi Vumawimbi beach
Women and Children of Pemba Island
Baskets made by women groups on Pemba Island up for sale!
These women produce these baskets to supplement their family income, we are currently looking for a market for their products as this seems to be the main challenge. Suggestions are welcome! J
First I want to say how happy I am to be working with these wonderful animals, and in such a beautiful place! The first time I saw flying foxes was in a forest in Northern Madagascar – they completely enchanted me and I remember thinking how much I would love to work with them in the future! And here I am. Counting all the Flying Fox roosts on the island is no easy task I can assure you! The flying foxes don’t always stay in the same roost, but regularly shift between sites and move according to season. The bats also roost on steep ridge tops, in thick forest, in mangroves, and on some of the small islets surrounding Pemba. It’s hard to predict when they are going to move – so we have to try and cover as much of the island as quickly as possible, to minimize the chance of double counting some of the bats or missing them completely. Without radio tagging these animals, much of their movements remain a mystery. The infrastructure is basic on Pemba Island, so some of these sites take a long time to reach by car, driving slowly to avoid the pot-holes and hoping it doesn’t rain and turn the whole road into a mud slick!
Pemba Flying Fox in flight
Photo J. Robinson
As part of this project we are not only completing a comprehensive survey to get a recent population estimate and mapping the distribution of the Pemba Flying Fox, but we are also spending time talking with the community, to try and gage their feelings and attitudes towards the Pemba Flying Foxes. As flying foxes eat fruit, seeds and nectar there is potential for them to be viewed as pests by the local people – for damaging their fruit crops. Although so far the opinions are mixed, many people here seem to appreciate the role of the Pemba Flying Fox as a primary seed disperser, and they are often proudly referred to by the local people as ‘tree planters’. In many places the conservation education the DCCFF have been working on over the years appears to have been very effective in increasing understanding of the importance of these animals to this special island.