Road to Zanzibar

by Peter Barto on February 16th, 2014

jungle pathThe last leg of my U.A.E.-Kenya-Tanzania trek put me on the Road to Zanzibar! A spice-laden gem of a spot sprouting off the Tanzanian coast in the beautiful Indian Ocean, Zanzibar reigns large in tales of romance and high adventure. Besides wanting to soak up the atmosphere of this great cultural crossroads, I fantasized of being the first to rediscover the near-mythic (and now, sadly, extinct) Zanzibar leopard (Panthera pardus adersi) while prowling through the island’s remaining jungle. If nothing else, I wanted to see the flagship species for conservation in that part of the world, the endemic Zanzibar red colobus (Procolobus kirkii), an endangered species found only in the Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park in central Unguja, the main island of the Zanzibar archipelago.

turaco mural

turaco mural

We hired a driver to get us to the park headquarters, and after a most colorful drive through villages located in the center of the island, we emerged from the van into a hot sun and a wall of green. A painted mural depicting a beautiful Fischer’s turaco (Tauraco fischeri) greeted us, and we quickly hired a local guide to direct us through the forest. After less than a half-hour of walking, we were pleased to hear the first sounds of primates – a troop of Zanzibar Sykes’ monkeys (Cercopithecus albogularis albogularis) in the trees above us. It was most excellent standing in this remote jungle and watching these beautiful bluish-gray critters going about their business. We continued our hike and coming out onto a earthen road, were pleased to find a group of Zanzibar Red Colobus eating in the bushes at the side of the road. Apparently conditioned to ignore people, we were able to watch these beauties for some time. Black, red and gray, with all-black faces full of personality. We learned that there are less than an estimated 2,000 of these monkeys left – another blight on Mankind’s record for treatment of wild things. After viewing these primates for some time, we continued to explore this forest and it’s mangrove periphery – absolutely beautiful. No sign of the leopard, but I felt fulfilled in knowing these rare monkeys still have a foothold on the island.

You can learn more about the amazing Zanzibar red colobus here:

And get thee to Zanzibar!

Sykes' Monkeys

Sykes’ Monkeys

Red Colobus Monkey

Red Colobus Monkey

Red Colobus Monkey

Red Colobus Monkey

Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park

Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park

Colobus Crossing

Sign at the entrance to the park

Zanzibar

Zanzibar

Zanzibar, home of the endemic Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkey

Zanzibar, home of the endemic Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkey