Much as good infrastructure is always sited as a reason for successful tourism , it not every day that poor infrastructure alone is the cause of low tourist numbers n an area. This however is the case with Amani Nature Reserve. Tourist numbers have declined greatly due to poor infrastructure.
The reserve, which is now a site for eco tourism offering opportunities for bird walking, nature walks, and hiking. It is one of the newest nature reserves established by the Tanzanian government in 1997,to conserve and protect flora and fauna in East Usambura. It was first established as an agriculture study and research station in 190 by the Germans.
The number of tourists visiting the reserve has declined in recent years due to very poor infrastructure, which discourages the tourists from venturing into the area. According to ms Mwanaidi Kijazi, a conservator at ANR, the reserve is difficult to access because the roads leading to it is impassable pretty much throughout the year, although it is worse in the rainy season.
The Amani nature reserve is an eco tourism sight which should be a major attraction in Tanzania, if it weren’t for the hindrance of poor infrastructure. Tourists on Tanzania safaris are often very interested in what the country has to offer in terms of eco tourism. So ideally, the reserve should have high numbers of visitors. There are some very rare animals found in the reserve such as the Nduk eagle owl, and some endemic plants. Apart from the Nduk eagle owl, some of the other animals in the reserve include; the black and white colobus monkey and the blue monkey. There is also a variety of birds for bird watchers to enjoy. Activities in the reserve include nature walks and hiking.
However the reserve’s problems are not just about poor infrastructure, it also has a problem illegal timber harvesting by the locals in the area. This diminishes the ecological value of the reserve.
There are a number of people in the local communities who depend on the reserve, and who ANR together with its other stakeholders have tried to help by introducing alternative sources of income such as Dairy cow keeping, fish farming, butterfly farming, bee keeping, spice cultivation, etc.
Mr Charles Ng’atigwa of Tanzania Forest Services agency, and Dr. Henry Ndangalasi of the University of Dar es Salaam both agree that more attention should be given by locals to conservation of nature. Many communities do not prioritise conservation of nature and protection of nature reserves because they think it is a thing for foreigners only probably because most tourists in Tanzania are foreigners. Local communities need to be educated and taught the importance of visiting nature reserves and also of protecting them.