Saadani National Park


Saadani National Park is Tanzania's 13th national park and has an area of 1,062 km2 (410 sq mi). It was officially gazetted in 2005 and is managed under the Tanzania National Parks Authority.[2] The park is located administratively in southeast Pangani District of Tanga Region and northeast Chalinze District of Pwani Region.

Gazetted in 2005, it encompasses a preserved ecosystem including the former Saadani game reserve, the former Mkwaja ranch area, the Wami River as well as the Zaraninge Forest. In the late 1960s Saadani Village – the village after which the park has been named – and particularly its sub-village Uvinje, invited the Tanzania Wildlife Division (WD) to help them to prevent the indiscriminate killing of wildlife prevalent in the area. From this partnership Saadani village and the Wildlife Division established the Saadani Game Reserve (SGR), with the agreement to respect the land rights of the coastal sub-villages of Saadani, including Uvinje and Porokanya sub-villages, while also addressing the needs of wildlife.

As such, conservation interventions in the Saadani landscape have taken place since the mid-1960s and have been supported by villagers traditionally inhabiting the Saadani landscape, but it is only recently that state-managed conservation has become a growing concern among the villages adjacent to the park.

In the late 1990s, Mr. Domician Njao, from Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA) came in to "upgrade" the reserve to a National Park, and create the first and only coastal national park of Tanzania. In doing so, park authorities redrew the boundaries of the reserve to include Uvinje’s and Porokanya’s prime coastal lands as if they have always been a part of the reserve in so doing changing the agreement with those villagers. Compelling research shows how after this TANAPA proceeded to gazette most of Saadani’s coastal lands as part of the Saadani National Park in 2005, arguing that they have always being a part of the former reserve and belonged to the Park.[3] Spatial analysis on the area of the former Saadani Game reserve, illustrates TANAPA's strategy to gazette Saadani's prime coastal lands as if they have always been a part of the SGR. The total extent of SGR is said to have been approximately 209 km2 (81 sq mi), however, the SGR official gazette document states that it comprised approximately 300 km2 (120 sq mi),[4]

The vagueness of the language used in the reserve’s official gazette,[4] but also TANAPA’s early interventions to develop its own map of the reserve, and its interests in Saadani’s sub-villages’ prime coastal lands have come to challenge Saadani’s coastal sub-villages’ rights to lawfully inhabit their traditional territories, and have led to chronic political and other battles to demand presently gazetted park lands rescinded, the reestablishment of land rights to traditional inhabitants, and to demand from TANAPA to honour commitments made earlier by Wildlife Division.