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ZALA Park:
Butterfly Centre:
Zanzibar Butterfly Centre
Interactive exhibition
Sansibar Schmetterling

ZALA Park and Zanzibar Butterfly Centre

Zanzibar Land Animal Park (ZALA Park)

ZALA Park is the initiative of Mr. Mohammed, an enthusiastic teacher from the village for Muungoni in the south of Zanzibar, opposite of Uzi Island. On his plot, Mohammed features a collection of several protected land animals, with a focus on reptiles. The idea is to familiarize the local population about the endangered species and to sensitize them about conservation. Local school classes are regularly visiting the park. Also tourists can visit, paying an entrance fee, which is the only source of income for ZALA Park.

The problem in Zanzibar is that some endangered species are either being eaten by the local population, or killed out of fun, fear or superstition. People for instance believe that the wound caused by the bite of a plated lizard only heals when sexual intercourse with one's sister is being conducted. A land crab entering one's house is believed to cause divorce and family problems, which can only be prevented if the crab is being killed with one's left hand and being thrown out the door. At ZALA Park's vivaria, it is possible to observe the animals from close and to get scientific explanations that prove the superstitious beliefs wrong.

Some of the Zanzibarian species being shown at ZALA Park include tree hyrax, monitor lizards, plated lizards, suni antelopes, land crabs, terrapins, tortoises, chameleons and various types of snakes.

Besides the vivaria, ZALA Park also features a nature trail through the mangrove forest. Further, Mohammed offers a boat trip along the coast where visitors can learn about the importance of corals and mangroves.

20 percent of the ticket sales are being used to pay the villagers for not killing protected species of animals.

Unfortunately, only very few tourists are visiting ZALA Park, as Mr. Mohammed knows a lot about Zanzibar's fauna, but not so much about tourism and marketing. During low season, only around 10 tourists per month are visiting ZALA Park and during high season the number rarely exceeds 50 visitors per month. Therefore, revenues are little and there are very limited resources for conservation or the expansion or improvement of ZALA Park.

Nearby ZALA Park there is Jozani Forest National Park, Zanzibar's last pristine tropical rain forest, which as a protected area is being visited by many tourists, just as Zanzibar Butterfly Centre and further tourist attractions. ZALA Park is also conveniently located near the main road connecting Zanzibar Town and airport with the popular beaches of the South East Coast such as Paje, Jambiani and Michamvi. By means of strategic partnerships with surrounding tourist offers and putting more effort into marketing, higher numbers of visitors can surely be achieved.

Volunteers and interns can participate in the subject area of tourism development and marketing. The task would consist in preparing ZALA Park for a larger number of visitors and to do marketing (for instance by setting up package offers for half and full day trips in combination with Jozani Forest and further tourist offers of the area, and presenting those to hotels).

Further, the volunteering option exists to assist Mr. Mohammed with infographics, graphic design and text editing. Mr. Mohammed has written a guide book about the fauna of Zanzibar. The text which is written in English language must be edited and the book's layout must be done, including more and better pictures. The book can then be sold to visitors of ZALA Park and Jozani Forest National Park, or to anyone interested in environmental conservation and domestic animals. Further, Mohammed has already written many texts to be used for information boards and leaflets at ZALA Park, the nature trail and the boat trips. For this kind of work, you should have skills in graphic design and photography, and you should have very good command of English language. Specific knowledge about animals or biology is not required.

Another project of Mr. Mohammed is to collect local folklore stories from members of the local community that he wants to publish as a book. It could be an interesting task for anyone studying anthropology to edit and write the book; knowledge of Swahili is benefitial.

You can also take care of the animals, helping with school group and tourist visits and manage the nature trails.

There is a local kindergarten and primary school nearby which was set up by the community, and Mohammed is also a teacher there. If you want, we can also arrange for you to do some teaching at this school, they are always asking for volunteers to teach English and other lessons. Or you could look at running some environmental education classes between the school and ZALA Park. 

All tasks being described so far can also be combined.

It is also possible to carry out research projects of related topic. Mr. Mohammed is very cooperative and has excellent knowledge about Zanzibar's fauna.

At low rent, there is accommodation which is basic, as Mungooni is a rural part of Zanzibar, but it is perfectly adequate for most of our participants. There is a bedroom with beds, mosquito nets and furniture for storage. The bathroom has a shower, sink and western style flushing toilet. There is a main room with a desk, bookshelves, table and chairs and a view out into the park. The kitchen has a sink and storage areas, but is not used for food preparation. Instead your meals will be cooked by a local woman (Mariam) in another house opposite, the food usually consists of local foods (e.g. rice, chapatti, spinach, beans, fish). You can also learn to cook these dishes with Mariam if you like, she is more than happy to teach you! 

There is running water in the accommodation but it is not hot water, however it is often over 30 degrees here so a cold shower is much more refreshing! There is also no electricity in the accommodation as it is very expensive for rural properties to get connected to the main power lines. There is electricity in the house next door and Mohammed says you are most welcome to use this when you wish. He can also arrange for an extension cable to be put across from his house if you like. We would also advise that you bring a torch/headlamp with you and buy candles when you are here. A placement in Mungooni will give you a real insight into the rural life of Zanzibar, you will be close to the local community and they will make you feel very welcome.

ZALA Park further has an office with electricity and internet network coverage from where you can work.

Zanzibar Butterfly Centre (ZBC)

The Zanzibar Butterfly Centre (ZBC) is a newly established tourist attraction in Zanzibar. The centre hosts a large free flight aviary (30 x 20 m), which provides living space for some 400-600 butterflies. All the butterfly species which are being kept are from Zanzibar.

The ZBC is a project of sustainable tourism. Due to the short life span of the butterflies of just a few weeks, the center is in permanent need of new butterflies, which are raised and bred by the locals of the neighboring village of Pete. This activity is an alternative and ecologically sustainable source of income for the local population, helping to decrease poverty in the region. A biologist advises the villagers in butterfly farming and further educates them in other environmental and agricultural subjects. Besides the free flight aviary, the center offers an interactive exhibition about the different butterfly species and their life in nature for tourists and locals. ZBC closely cooperates with the Jozani Chwaka Bay national park, Jozani Environmental Convervation Association (JECA) and Pete Development Association (PDA).

The following volunteer positions and internships are possible at ZBC:

Students or graduates of biology and ecology can work as an ecological advisor in the village of Pete. They are going to teach and assist the locals in butterfly breeding and other areas of ecological farming. The minimum duration for this activity is 3 months.

Volunteers can stay in Stone Town, which means one hour travel time by Daladala to ZBC, or they can stay alternatively in the village of Pete.

Students of tourism, marketing, public relations, etc. can assist the center in public relations and marketing. The main goal is to attract tourists to visit the center; students can contact tour operators to make them integrate a visit of the ZBC into their Zanzibar travel itineraries, or try to reach individual travelers via online marketing.

Volunteers and interns for that option should have at least 3 months time. It is recommended to live in Stone Town, since most of the tour operators are located there and as in Pete there isn’t any internet access. Please note that volunteers need to pay the costs for internet access in internet cafés in Stone Town themselves.

Info box:

Location:Jozani Forest, Zanzibar

Duration: Minimum 1 month

Special qualification required: See text 

Costs: free of charge (trouble-free package for € 500 is optional)

Accommodation: Not included

Meals: Not included

Included: Placement in the project; if you opt for the trouble-free package the whole range of services which is part of the trouble-free package is included

Not included: Travel, health insurance, visa, work permit

Book this placement now!