Flamingos in Zanzibar

Mr. Sabry Juma of the Mambo Magazine, has just given permission to reproduce a story of his, describing his first sight of a few flamingos on the Spice Island of Unguja, commonly referred to as Zanzibar.

Flamingoes in Zanzibar

Posted by Sabry Juma on 19 Nov

Flamingoes at Bwawani, Zanzibar

One special site off the tourist trail in Zanzibar, and one of my favourite places to visit, is Bwawani pond. This is what is left of the estuarine mouth of the Darajani Creek system, which underwent major modification (including canalization and reclamation) from the late 19th century to the middle of the 20th century.

The last recorded modification of this pond system was when the new Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar decided to develop the place for tourism purposes and built a grand hotel on a reclaimed shoal next to the pond. The plan at the time was for this showpiece hotel to be complemented with aesthetic ponds and wetland parks. As it happened, little of this development took place.

However, over the years, this swamp environment has attracted many birds to migrate here. This year, at Eid al Fitr, flamingos descended on Bwawani for the first time. These pink wading birds had not been seen before on the island, and it was a sight to behold them in this new setting. Other birds seen around the Bwawani wetlands are the black heron, buff-backed heron, golden oriole, whistling ducks and egrets.

Flamingoes at Bwawani, Zanzibar

Every time I visit this place, I seem to see a new kind of bird, and it is also a beautiful place to come to relax and contemplate, as you watch birds swimming, feeding and fishing. It’s also a change from the usual activities suggested when people visit Zanzibar.

Many people here in Zanzibar want the swamp to be filled in – one of the arguments is that it provides a breeding ground for mosquitoes. But it is often the case that they have not taken the time to discover what the site offers. I hope that these wetlands do remain, because it’s the only place where we can see these types of birds here in Unguja and show our visitors birds that would have been populous across the island many years ago.