The island of Vamizi is an important and significant wildlife refuge, with 112 different bird species recorded, Samango monkeys, four species of turtle, and Giant Coconut crabs. But what really sets the island apart is its untouched underwater landscape, which features some of the world's last remaining unbleached coral reefs in all their natural beauty.
The Cabo Delgado Biodiversity Project was set up to help protect the area and runs in partnership with the Zoological Society of London and the island's fishermen. The project will help to conserve the 33,000 hectares of savannah on the mainland as well as the marine and island habitats of Vamizi and the two neighbouring isles of Rongui and Macaloe.
There are approximately 1,000 people living in two villages on the eastern tip of the island. During the civil war - from 1976 to 1992 - they moved here to escape the fighting. Small local communities, especially in one of the poorest countries in the world, rarely have the resources to preserve the natural environment unless they are able to gain direct benefit. Vamizi Island is committed to the community conservation projects that will provide these benefits.
Vamizi Island lodge was built by the villagers and all building materials were sourced from local sustainable sources. They are also building a local school and clinic and employ people from the nearby village. Fish is bought from the local boats, wherever possible, and sustainable fishing practices are encouraged. The local fishermen have been trained to monitor the green and hawksbill turtles, dugongs and humpback whales populations. As a result, the area is turning into a marine reserve. Today, turtle populations, including the endangered hawksbill, have been counted, tagged and protected and this is now the biggest turtle conservation operation in East Africa.
$20 per Vamizi Island bednight is set aside for community and conservation efforts.