Conservation & Community at Mnemba Island
At &Beyond, we believe that the land, people and wildlife of Africa are inextricably intertwined.
Just as wildlife conservation and ecotourism are vital for the continent’s future and the prosperity of its people, it is equally critical to support those people to protect Africa’s threatened ecosystems, endangered species and the precious biodiversity of its wildlife areas.
Sustainability at &Beyond is all about creating a company that can show meaningful and lasting benefits for the natural environments and communities that surround our operations. At every one of our lodges we seek out small (and sometimes not so small) but meaningful ways of putting our values into action every day.
&Beyond’s core ethos of Care of the Land, Care of the Wildlife, and Care of the People has become an intuitive part of the way that we operate and has allowed us to positively influence more than 9 million acres of protected wildlife land. With the recent expansion of our island portfolio, the plight of the world’s marine resources and sensitive habitats has broadened the reach of our wildlife conservation initiatives to include the protection and sustainability of our seas with Oceans Without Borders – a call to preserving our marine eco-systems.
Oceans Without Borders
Building on the incredible influence we have on protected wildlife land, &Beyond is expanding its focus on wildlife conservation to include the preservation and sustainability of our seas with Oceans Without Borders. Each of our three islands; &Beyond Mnemba, Benguerra and Vamizi, are situated within protected marine areas and boast a strong conservation focus, all with dedicated projects as well as shared initiatives. At &Beyond Mnemba Island, the highlighted Oceans Without Borders project is green turtle monitoring; as the island is the only protected nesting site for the endangered green turtle in Zanzibar, and one of handful of sites throughout Tanzania.
GREEN TURTLE CONSERVATION
The Island is one of only two protected nesting sites for the endangered green turtle in Zanzibar. With statistics measured since 1998, an average of 34 turtles nest on the island per year, with more than a hundred hatchlings born per nest. An estimated 60 000 green turtles have been born on the island in the 17 years since the lodge team began keeping records. Mnemba is one of the top three sites for green turtle laying in Tanzania and is deemed very important to Sea Sense, a non-governmental Tanzanian organisation and the NGO that Mnemba collaborates with on data sharing and training.
COCONUT CRAB CONSERVATION
The biggest land crab in the world, so little is known about the coconut crab that they do not even have a conservation status with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), being listed as ‘data deficient’. Mnemba Island has a small but stable population of these crabs and recently hosted two researchers from Gothenburg University in Sweden, who conducted a study of the coconut crabs at Mnemba and nearby Chumbe Island. This was the first study of its kind conducted in Africa, as any previous research has taken place in the Asia-Pacific region. The initial output of the research shows evidence of breeding behaviour among the crabs.
&Beyond Mnemba Island is one of two island lodges in the company’s stable and is one of its smallest in terms of guest numbers. By contrast, the benefits of their conservation measures and successes are substantial and far reaching.
ADER'S DUIKER CONSERVATION
The rarest antelope species in Africa, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) estimates that there are between 300 and 600 Ader’s duiker remaining in the wild. In 2005 five of these antelope were introduced to Mnemba Island and have since tripled their number, with a population of 15 now living on the island. Mnemba Island is believed to be the only place in the world where these little animals can be spotted in the wild. Working with WCS, &Beyond has collected information on the duikers’ diet and behaviour and we hope that this will allow us to improve the breeding programme, leading to a further increase in the numbers of the species.
SUNI ANTELOPE CONSERVATION
Zanzibari suni were introduced to Mnemba Island from Jozani Forest with the aim of diversifying and increasing their population. On Mnemba, where they have no natural predators, they have been breeding twice, rather than once, every year. Over the years, more than 250 suni have been moved to 13 sites throughout Zanzibar. Suni numbers remain carefully monitored and 15 new individuals were recently introduced onto the island to dilute the gene pool.
EXPERIMENTAL FISH AGGREGATING DEVICES
Mnemba Island provides financial and logistical support to an experimental program that has introduced six Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) into the waters west of north-eastern Zanzibar. These devices consist of a concrete anchor, nylon ropes and pressure floats, which combine to attract pelagic (deep ocean) fish. In time, it is hoped that local fishermen will be able to obtain sufficient catches of tuna and other species from the FADs, and reduce impact on the fragile coral reefs.
SUPPORTING ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY AT LOCAL VILLAGES
Mnemba Island has no resident community but works closely with the villages of Matemwe and Kigini, situated on the main Zanzibar island. In addition to supporting schools and helping to develop vegetable gardens, Mnemba has erected a windmill and sponsors beach clean-ups. Financial support and housing for MIMCA staff has been provided and ways are explored to prevent over-utilisation of reef fishes.
FUN CONSERVATION LESSONS
In order to protect and preserve the rich and fragile ecosystem of the Zanzibar Archipelago surrounding &Beyond's beautiful Mnemba Island, the lodge has embarked on an ongoing campaign to inform and inspire the youth from the nearest community through interactive and exciting Conservation Lessons.