Ngezi Forest Reserve

The Ngezi Forest Reserve, which is largely made up of forest, is located on Pemba Island, Tanzania, and spans about 3,600 acres. This reserve was formed in 1959 and continues to be one of the country’s most diversified forest areas. The Ngezi Forest Reserve contains a variety of biomes, including tropical forest, riverine forest, and maquis shrubland. There are hundreds of plant species living and growing in harmony across all of these biomes. Much of the Ngezi Forest Reserve is occupied by mangroves as well as a great variety of orchids, including Aerangis and Vanilla roscheri, among many others.

Numerous animal species, including the uncommon and endangered Pemba flying fox, call the Ngezi Forest Reserve home. This fox was on the verge of extinction, but thanks to the reserve’s protective activities, its population has risen to around 20,000 in recent years. Numerous primates live in the reserve, including the subspecies vervet monkey and the Zanzibar red colobus, which was initially introduced to the reserve in the 1970s. Other well-known creatures found in the Ngezi Forest Reserve are the blue duiker and the Pemba scops owl.

Ngezi Forest Reserve
Red Monkeys

Ngezi Forest swamps, heathlands, and thickets

A narrow coastal belt is densely forested. The ground is made out of ancient coral rock that is fragmented and often sharp-edged, with pockets of soil that keep the flora alive. Coral rag is the name given to this location. On the tidal coastal waterways, mangrove trees thrive. The creeks are fed by little streams. At high tides, seawater rushes deep into forming brackish swampy places.

The Flying Fox Bats of Pemba in the reserve

The Pemba Flying Fox, a huge bat with chestnut-colored fur, is an endemic species in Ngezi. It eats figs, mango, papaya, and different tree blooms as part of its diet. These bats are key pollinators and dispersers of seeds in both forests and cultivated trees. Flying foxes roost upside down in the canopies of trees throughout the day, typically in large flocks. Only damp woodlands are home to the Pemba Flying Fox. Because there are only a few patches of forest left, and because locals hunt flying foxes for food, they are endangered.

Other Mammals of the Ngezi Forest

In addition to bats, which include both fruit-eating and insectivorous species, two species of diurnal primates, the Pemba Vervet Monkey and the Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkey, which were imported to Ngezi Forest in the 1970s from Zanzibar reside in the canopies. Hyraxes with a lazy appearance are also present and can be observed climbing trees and eating leaves. The Pemba blue duiker is a little antelope that looks like a hare and lurks in the forest. Feral pigs, brought by the Portuguese many years ago, also reside here. The marsh mongoose, which prefers to live near ponds and streams, is Ngezi’s only native carnivore.

Birds of Ngezi Forest

The damp forest of Ngezi is home to a variety of bird species, some of which are indigenous to Pemba. The Hadada, African goshawk, palm-nut vulture, green pigeon, scops ow, malachite kingfisher, broad-billed roller, crowned hornbill, Pemba white-eye, black-breasted glossy starling, and many other birds can be seen in Ngezi Forest.

Ngezi Forest Reserve
green pigeon

What you should expect during your visit to Ngezi reserve

The Ngezi Forest, which covers much of the area, is the final remnant of a vast tract of indigenous forest that once covered most of Pemba. The Pemba Flying Fox, a bat native to the island, can be found in Ngezi. The forest is a protected area in and of itself. Vumawimbi Beach on the east side of the Ngezi peninsula, is a beautiful beach with miles of white sand bordered by a lush forest. The “Pango ya Watoro,” or fugitives’ cave, is also located on the western side.

If you have extra time, you can spend it visiting the “cultural zones,” which are hallowed sections of the forest that locals sweep and clean on a regular basis to placate their ancestors. These sacred sites, known as “MIZIMU,” are used for prayers, requests, and offerings to the spirits of the deceased.

Ngezi Forest Reserve
Vumawimbi Beach

What to do in Ngezi reserve

Nature walk-Two nature trails lead from the visitor center through the forest, and off-trail walking is permitted. All tours must be accompanied by a naturalist guide, some of whom are fluent in English. The Joshi Trail (Tsh16, 000 per person) is the most popular, taking about an hour and providing opportunities to see birds, red colobus monkeys, and Pemba flying foxes (especially in the early morning and late afternoon).

The Taufiki Trail (Tsh20, 000) continues north through the forest to Vumawimbi Beach (after three to four hours); from there, you can retrace your steps, walk through the reserve’s bordering settlements, or arrange a ride in a local pick-up. Birdwatching and bat-watching excursions, as well as night walks (all Tsh20, 000) to observe bush babies and for keen birdwatchers to see the unique Pemba scops owl, are available as part of your journey to Ngezi forest reserve.