Zanzibar is an archipelago made up of Zanzibar and Pemba Islands, and several islets. It is located in the Indian Ocean, about 25 miles from the Tanzanian coast, and 6° south of the equator. Zanzibar Island (known locally as Unguja, but as Zanzibar internationally) is 60 miles long and 20 miles wide, occupying a total area of approximately 650 square miles. It is characterised by beautiful sandy beaches with fringing coral reefs, and the magic of historic Stone Town is said to be the only functioning ancient town in East Africa.
Although most of Zanzibar’s natural forest has been lost to agriculture or construction, the Jozani Forest is a protected reserve, and is the largest conservation area in Zanzibar. It is conveniently located in the centre of Zanzibar about 24 km southeast of Stone Town, and at 44 square kilometers the Jozani Forest covers approximately 3% of the Zanzibar main island. The reserve contains a large mangrove swamp and natural coral rag forest that is home to over 100 different kinds of trees and species such as the rare and endangered red Columbus monkey, Sykes monkey, bush babies, duikers, hyraxes, over 50 species of butterfly and 40 species of birds. With a population estimated at fewer than 2,000, the red Columbus monkey is one of the rarest monkeys in Africa and can only be found on the main island of Zanzibar.
The reserve is managed by the local residents who operate tree nurseries and act as rangers and guides. From the visitors’ centre, visitors will take a guided 45-minute nature trail into the beautiful and peaceful forest where there is excellent opportunity to spot the red Columbus monkeys.
There are no large wild animals in Zanzibar, and forest areas such as Jozani are inhabited by monkeys, bush-pigs and small antelopes. Civets and rumour has it, the elusive Zanzibar leopard! Various species of mongoose can also be found on the island. There is a wide variety of birdlife, and a large number of butterflies in rural areas. The coral reefs that surround the East Coast are rich in marine diversity, and make Zanzibar an ideal location for snorkelling and scuba diving.