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Chumbe Island Coral Park, Zanzibar/tanzania Charity Profile
The Chumbe Island Coral Park is a unique privately managed nature reserve developed and managed by the Chumbe Island Coral Park Ltd. (CHICOP). It is a rare example of a still pristine coral island ecosystem in an otherwise heavily overfished and over-exploited area.
The reserve includes a reef sanctuary, which has become the first gazetted marine park in Tanzania, and a forest reserve.
In the following text you will find outline information about the reserve's history, the work of our park rangers, about our nature trails and educational material, and about research, baseline surveys and monitoring.
After the discovery of Chumbe's incredibly bio-diverse reef eco-system several years of campaigning by CHICOP succeeded in officially closing the fringing reef West of Chumbe Island in October 1992. With Chumbe being located upstream of the most important fishing grounds opposite Zanzibar's capital, Stonetown, the Chumbe reef provides a protected breeding ground for fish, corals and other species which can then spread out to recolonise nearby overfished and degraded areas. This makes Chumbe's protection of vital importance to both the preservation of bio-diversity and the fisheries economy in the region. On the 24th of December 1994 the Zanzibar Government officially gazetted the reef as the "Chumbe Reef Sanctuary" and with this Chumbe had become the first marine park in Tanzania. Following this Chumbe became registered as a UN recognised Protected Area.
To support nature conservation, local people must understand why this is a good thing and also benefit from it. This is why Chumbe Island has from the beginning recruited former fishermen from adjacent villages, who are stationed on the island and have been trained as Park Rangers. They were the key people in early outreach programs to raise awareness among the local community on marine ecology and sustainable management of natural resources. It is these Rangers who, through their employment with CHICOP, now manage the protection of the reserve and produce daily reports on any incidents and observations on the Reef Sanctuary and the Forest Reserve. Two of them have also learned SCUBA diving and were the first East Africans to witness the coral spawning observed in 1994.
The Rangers are also involved in numerous research projects conducted on the island and have been trained to guide visitors for snorkeling in the Reef Sanctuary. Additionally a key role of these Rangers is to lead the school excursions within the Chumbe Education Program (see Education Program page for more info). To enhance this, various forms of educational materials have been developed. Biological reference literature and laminated fish guides for underwater use are available, and numerous reports have been commissioned and produced regarding the islands fauna and flora, both marine and forest. 'Floating underwater information modules' (FIMs) have been developed to aid all visitors to the MPA, accompanied by laminated information cards and identification guides depicting fishes, invertebrates and mollusks found in the reef. Nature trails and educational material are open to schoolchildren, eco-tourists and local people alike.