The Green Turtle
The most common of turtles coming to Tanzania and Saadani to nest is the Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) the largest of the hard-shelled sea turtles. The Green Turtle gets its name from the colour of its fat. They come to the beaches to lay their eggs. Prefered nesting habitats have an open offshore approach as is given in Saadani and range from large, open beaches to small cove beaches both on mainland and islands.
The Green Turtle occurs in all sub-tropical and tropical seas. Marine organisms which have been around for hundreds of millions of years, turtle abundance in the world’s oceans has decreased tremendously from population numbers in the millions in former centuries. Trawlers, gill nets, dredging, oil and mineral exploration, pollution of the seas as well as intentional and accidental capture threaten the future of turtles worldwide. Rubbish from passing ships may cause a turtle to choke to death and / or drown. In Saadani the Green Turtles, and also incidentally the livelihoods of the fishermen in the villages, are threatened by the prawn trawlers operating off the Saadani coastline. These operate without Turtle Exluder Devices (TEDs): Panels of large mesh webbing in front of the shrimp nets. By-catch, including turtles, are thus prevented from being caught in the actual prawn catching nets and are deflected out of an escape hatch.
Capture of nesting females and the raiding of turtle egg nests constitutes the other big threat to turtles in Saadani. If you are fortunate enough to witness a female turtle come out to lay eggs you may wish to watch her or ensure someone reliable watches her until she has returned safely to sea. You may wish to contact the rangers at Madete Beach so they can ensure safe incubation and hatching of the next turtle generation.
In 1993 a Green Turtle Conservation Project was established at Madete beach 13 km south of Mkwaja village, just south of the Sima River. Madete beach appears to be the preferred hatching site for the turtles between Dar Es Salaam and the Kenyan coast. Here for several years a hatchery successfully supervised the hatching of young turtles and their return to the sea. Though it is best to leave turtles to hatch from where they were laid, the twice daily collection of the eggs under the programme ensured the survival of the young by reducing collection by villagers.
Source: Baldus et al. 2001
Park rules and regulations
Because of its situation on the coastal part of Tanzania and the many conflicting interests in the development of this region, Saadani National Park faces many threats to its survival. The most serious are poaching and the ever increasing demand for land to feed a large and growing human population that borders the park. Your behaviour can be as damaging as that of a poacher’s snare. Driving off road where it is not allowed damages the fragile soils and plants of these sensitive ecosystems, and can disturb species during critical breeding periods. You can help to preserve Saadani National Park and its unique character by respecting our rules and regulations.
- Keep to the 50 kph speed limit. This is for your safety and the safety of all wildlife.
- Driving at night is not allowed (7 pm to 6 am).
- Stay on the roads/tracks except where you are specifically allowed to drive off-road.
- Be considerate of the wildlife – do not harass, feed or interfere with wildlife. Act accordingly – do not get out of, stand on, or hang out of vehicles near any animal.
- Green turtles are endangered and their breeding sites are limited. Please do not disturb adults, hatchlings or nests on the beach.
- Coral reefs are sensitive habitats for marine life. Please do not break off or walk on the fragile corals.
- Leave all plants, animals, skulls, bones, rocks or any objects in the Park where they belong.
- Do not bring any animal or plant into the Park.
- Picnic at specially authorised places and avoid disturbing the wildlife.
- Please do not leave your trash behind: make sure to either take it with you, or dispose of it properly. Extinguish your cigarettes in your vehicle’s ashtray to avoid bush fires
- Do not start fires unless at authorised camps.
- Remember that the Park’s gates open at 6 am and close at 6 pm.
Documents for download
Saadani village is located roughly 45 km north of Bagamoyo. However in order to cross the Wami a 150 km detour has to be made via Msata, although a bridge is planned. Dar es Salaam is at about 200 km away from Saadani village (4 hours’ drive via Chalinze). From the North you can reach Mkwaja Headquarters from Tanga by crossing Pangani river with a ferry (75 km / 3 hours’ drive). From here it will be another 35 km to Saadani village. Zanzibar is about 40 km away from the Park. Transfer by airplane can be arranged to Mkwaja or Saadani airstrip. There is also a daily bus connection between Dar es Salaam and Saadani village, as well as between Tanga and Mkwaja village. In the rainy season (March–April), the muddy roads can make travelling in the southern parts of the Park very difficult. It is advisable to inquire about the quality of the road before planning a trip.
All tariffs are available here.
Addresses & contact
For any further information, please contact:
Saadani National Park
P.O. Box 133
Tel: +8821 621 276 144
TANAPA guesthouses are available near Saadani village and at Mkwaja headquarters. Camping is allowed at Saadani guesthouse, the Wami River (Kinyonga) and Tengwe Campsite.
- Tanzania National Parks
- GTZ Project (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit)
- Private Website of Dr. Rolf D. Baldus
- Turtle and Dugong Conservation Programme
Ecotourism Projects around Saadani National Park
Ongoing research projects in and around Saadani National Park
- Recolonisation of a coastal savanna ecosystem in Tanzania after abandonment of cattle ranching (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich)
Sientific publications from former research projects in and around Saadani National Park
- Patterns and dynamics of secondary Acacia zanzibarica woodlands at Mkwaja Ranch, Tanzania, by Roland Cochard (2004)
- Habitat use of wildlife and diet preferences of the warthog (Phacochoerus africanus) on a former cattle ranch in a Tanzanian savanna, by Anna Christina Treydte (2004)
- Die Verteilung von Warzenschweinen (Phacochoerus africanus) in einer durch Viehbeweidung modifizierten Küstensavanne Tansanias, by Stephanie Anne Halsdorf (2002)
- Patterns of Grasshopper Diversity and Abundance on a Former Cattle Ranch, by Christian Bohr (2000)
- The impact of cattle ranching on the large-scale vegetation structure of a coastal savanna in Tanzania, by Mathias Tobler (2001)
- Mkwaja Ranch: A Management’s Perspective of Cattle Ranching in Tanzania between 1952 and 2000, by Pueng That (2004)