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Uvinje Village & Saadani National Park, Tanzania

Saadani was initially a game reserve created in the 1960s, partly at the behest of local residents concerned over seeing outsiders come in and indiscriminately kill wildlife. Saadani village contributed land for the reserve. However, when the game reserve became a national park records of the boundaries became scarce. Recent research seems to have done a thorough job of confirming the claims by local residents that the Tanzania National Parks Authority has arbitrarily redrawn park boundaries to snap up additional village land. Now they are ready to evict residents of Uvinje Sub-village.


The Protected Areas and Poverty Reduction Canada-Africa Research and Learning Alliance (PAPR) is a 5 years project seeking to address the challenges of reducing rural poverty and ensuring environmental sustainability through a focus on protected areas (PAs) and adjacent communities in Canada, Tanzania and Ghana. The project supports research and learning in four main areas: costs and benefits of protected areas (PAs), managing human-wildlife interactions, PA governance, and knowledge mobilization among researchers, communities, agencies and practitioners.

This document is a summary of research conducted by Alejandra Orozco, a researcher from the Coastal and Ocean Resource Analysis Laboratory, Geography Department, University of Victoria, and Ally Abdallah, former PAPR Tanzania Community Coordinator. This research snapshot is a component of the PAPR sub-project: Environmental Change in Coastal Protected Areas: The Role of Knowledge, Institutions and Multi-level Governance in Adaptive Capacity[i].

Case Study and Research Background

Uvinje is a small coastal sub-village adjacent to the Saadani National Park located approximately 8 km from Saadani Village. Officially gazetted in 2005, the Saadani National Park (SNP) is comprised of about 1100 km² of biologically diverse grassy and forested savannahs, marine, riverine and wetland ecosystems; SNP is also connected to similarly socially diverse surroundings comprised of 17 villages and numerous sub-villages with long-standing connections to the terrestrial and marine environments.

Research data were collected during a 12 month period between 2012 and 2013 in 13 villages adjacent to the Saadani National Park. SNP’s 17 adjacent villages are officially recognized and with functioning governing structures, including Saadani, Buyuni, Mkwaja, Mikocheni, Mkange, Kwakibuyu, Gendagenda, Mbulizaga, Mkalamo, Kwansisi, Mkange, Gongo and Matipwili, where the research took place. This research brief documents the various developments in the promotion and support to conservation in the Saadani landscape and the importance of governance and institutional interplay in the conservation of lands and resources. Conservation interventions in the Saadani landscape have taken place since the mid-1960s, but it is only recently that state-managed conservation has become a growing concern among the villages adjacent to the park. At present, at least four of the park’s adjacent villages are engaged in advocacy to demand from park and higher level authorities that the park boundaries be reassessed. Of all the 17 villages, however, it is Saadani village itself—the village after which the park was named—where the stakes are perhaps highest: two of its coastal sub-villages’ lands have been gazetted as park lands. Saadani villagers’ eviction from the gazetted coastal lands has not come to fruition, despite the decade long establishment of the park. This summary elaborates on Saadani village’s role in conservation and the particular land dispossession status of Uvinje, one of its coastal sub-villages. The present data analysis suggests such evictions have not taken place in part because of the sub-villages’ strong leadership and collective assertions and in part because, there seem to be considerable problems with the arguments put forward to have had these sub-village lands gazetted as part of the national park.

The primary data, collected from Saadani and 12 other villages adjacent to SNP, comes from group and key informant interviews with village and sub-village level decision-making bodies, and former and current leaders; community elders; Park authorities; and environmental agencies at the district and regional levels. The data also includes primary and secondary spatial data analysed using ArcGIS, and analysis of documents.

Grassroots Environmental Stewardship and the Saadani Game Reserve (SGR)

1.1            Establishing the SGR

Data from interviews and historical village documents illustrate the nature of involvement of Saadani village and sub-villages (among which Uvinje is one) in the establishment of the first conservation venture in the Saadani landscape. In early 1965, while Saadani villagers were involved in collective decision-making and other institutional activities at the village centre, they received the unexpected visit of the then Director of Wildlife, Mr. H.S. Mahinda, who was passing by on his way to Tanga. After learning who he was, Saadani villages leaders approached him to request support to protect the wildlife that was being indiscriminately killed by outsiders. The leaders’ bold step led to the establishment of the first conservation venture in Saadani, the Saadani Game Reserve[ii]. As such, the proposed Saadani Game Reserve (SGR) became operational before the 1970s and was officially gazetted in 1974[iii]. Managed by the Wildlife Division Department (WDD) over the next three decades, the reserve became of interests to the Tanzania National Park Authority (TANAPA) as a unique prospective place for a coastal national park in the 1990s, which led to TANAPA intervening in the drawing of a SGR map, and to the subsequent establishment of the Saadani National Park (which included the reserve) in 2004. While being managed by the WDD, the SGR enabled the establishment and strengthening of multi-level institutional interactions between conservation agencies (in particular the WDD) and conservation-minded village organs, and facilitated the launching of mutually beneficial conservation and resource management activities between Saadani village and the WDD, as numerous documents of the time attest to[iv].

1.2          Spatial Features of the SGR

The total extent of SGR is said to have been approximately 209km²[v], however, the online version of the SGR official gazette document states that it was comprised of approximately 300km²[vi], while some of TANAPA’s official documents indicate it was 260km²[vii]. Spatial analysis conducted as part of the present research suggest that the total game reserve area was of about 200Km2 (see maps below for an illustration of the game reserve maps and spatial analysis conducted). Unfortunately the official SGR gazette does not include a map, and describes the reserve boundaries using only some prominent land features and some vague descriptions of the location of the reserve boundary beacons[viii].

Figure 1 below shows the various maps made of the reserve, including the one produced during the present research using the description provided in the official game reserve gazette document. In this map are also included the location of two remaining SGR beacons (See Figure 4), whose position was recorded using GPS and whose location coincides with elders’ accounts of the original location of the game reserve boundary. These various maps of the SGR, including the one done through research commissioned by the Ministry of environment, directly indicate that Uvinje sub-village coastal lands have never been part of the SGR. This data, however, contradict the map developed by TANAPA, also shown in Figure 1, a piece of evidence which the agency has used[ix] to argue that the sub-village coastal land was part of the reserve and that as such it has been included as part of the National Park.

SGRbeacon_12_2013 028

Figure4. One of the beacons showing the former SGR boundary

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Figure4b. A second SGR beacon.

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Figure 4c. Saadani National Park boundary beacon. Notice the difference with the SGR beacon.

Saadani_GR Maps

Figure1. Various Maps of the Saadani Game Reserve

The vagueness of the language used in the reserve’s official gazette, but also TANAPA’s early interventions to develop its own map of the reserve, and its interests in Saadani’s sub-villages’ prime coastal lands have come to challenge Saadani’s coastal sub-villages’ rights to lawfully inhabit their traditional territories, and have led to chronic political and other battles to demand presently gazetted park lands rescinded, the reestablishment of land rights to traditional inhabitants, and to try to force TANAPA to honour commitments made earlier by WDD.

1.3          The wildlife Division’s Overall Approach to Conservation

What emerges from the analysis of SGR historical reports, from independent research data on the game reserve (published in 1996)[x], from the historical village documents, and from interviews with elders’ conducted for this research is that the reserve only included a small strip of beach land of 2.5 km in length, which was located north of Saadani village, from Mvave river up to Kijitokombe river (Kijitokombe river also demarcates the south boundary of Uvinje sub-village lands). Moreover, the data describes the Wildlife Division’s efforts to give equal priority to community needs as it did to the conservation of wildlife populations, its focus on enabling coastal villages to build capacity to address the potential in tourism, and to honour villagers’ rights to territories for habitation and to benefits from conservation.


Figure 2. Various Maps of Saadani National Park. None of the two shapes coincides with the officially gazetted coordinate points.

With the exception of a couple of in-land sub-villages whose location was right at the heart of the proposed game reserve area (Tengwe being one of the sub-villages), the SGR managers made no requests to have coastal villages’ settlements disoccupied or relocated, for the purposes of using beach lands. In fact, in a 1970 annual SGR report, signed by H.S. Mahinda, the game reserve efforts in addressing community capacity development and in supporting villages’ developments for engagement in tourism management are stressed[xi]. The Wildlife Division, and particularly Mahinda’s approach to respecting village lands rights and to asserting tourism through community development is further corroborated by interviews data with villages’ elders, who repeatedly coincide in affirming that tourism and other development was to be aligned with the wishes of the village leadership and to be sensitive to villages’ socio-economic needs. Eventually, achievements in institutional interactions among the SGR authorities and village leaders, the building of trust through regular consultations and collective wildlife management endeavours, and progress in ecological conservation together led to an increasing interest in the further expansion of the 200 km² of reserve land to include Mkwaja South area (94.05 Km2) then owned by Amboni Plantations, a former cattle ranch which had been set aside as a potential wildlife-rich forest reserve[xii].

The establishment of the Saadani National Park

Analysis of official documents and qualitative data both suggest that the level of awareness of environmental conservation in the villages around SNP led to the establishment of Saadani Game Reserve and then continued to bolster it. In the late 1990s, the unique natural and geographic features of the Saadani landscape motivated TANAPA to engage in cross level interactions with various agencies and organizations[xiii] to establish the Saadani National Park. It was not only the successes in early interactions between villages and the WDD but also the many promises by TANAPA of conservation benefits and of collaborative planning and management which eventually influenced the ceding of other village lands by Matipwili, Saadani, Buyuni, Mkwaja, Mkange and Kwamsisi. These areas, together with the SGR, Mkwaja Ranch (North and South), Zaraninge forest reserve, the Rezaba coastal area, the West of the railway Saadani-Mkange area, and the Wami river area were gazetted in 2004 as part of the SNP. See Figure 2 for TANAPA’s versions of the SNP maps, as the official park gazette document does not include the total park area and is bereft of an official map, including only a number of geographic coordinate points to describe the extent and limits of the park.

Although, by law, setting aside areas for conservation has to be consulted on, at least to some extent, with affected villages, it was not until late in 2005 that the village of Saadani and leaders of its Uvinje sub-village realized that the full extent of Uvinje’s lands were gazetted as part of the park. This despite numerous communications taking place since the early 2000s where village leaders continuously reiterate that Uvinje lands have never been a part of the reserve and that they will not vacate their lands[xiv]. Important park establishment documents illustrate that TANAPA’s argument for gazetting lands from two Saadani coastal sub-villages is that they have always being part of the former game reserve[xv], an argument that seem to have allowed them to move forward gazetting the coastal lands without coming to an agreement with the leaders at that time, who have reiterated that they did not agree to giving coastal lands to TANAPA. A quick assessment of TANAPA’s main argument that such coastal sub-villages lands were part of the former reserve and its action to gazette the lands without consultation, however, do not hold up for two primary reasons. The first is that despite the vague language used in the reserve’s official gazette, it is clear enough in the gazette that the reserve borders didn’t extend all the way to the beach[xvi]. In addition, there were multiple statements and communications from Saadani leaders clearly expressing their refusal to have Uvinje’s coastal lands included as part of the park. Second, because of the numerous legislative changes that initially allowed village populations to remain within reserves and that later prescribed that villages were to be located outside reserves boundaries, demanded that TANAPA go through meaningful engagement with these sub-villages and the Saadani Village authorities to have their land included as part of the park. However, of all the park establishment documents so far accessed, none includes any type of consultation to get Saadani’s approval to have coastal lands included as part of the park; they just convey that villagers have been made aware of the need to be relocated.


Figure 3a. Former village territories and the SNP. Notice the scarce amount of lands left as village settlements (especially for Saadani) after the creation of the national park.


Figure 3b. Former Saadani village territory (281 km2) & current extent of village lands (11.8km2).


Fig. 3b. Area of land gazetted by Tanapa, which includes all of the territories of Uvinje and Porokanya’s sub-villages. Remaining Saadani Village area is about 11.8km2 of its former ~50km2 of prime coastal land.

2.1            Public Participation and Saadani Park Lands

Throughout TANAPA reports, public participation is said to have been an essential component in the establishment of the park[xvii. Minutes from the District Board at the Ward and District levels provide descriptions on TANAPA’s arguments on the nature and importance of the park and share details of inputs from village, division, ward, district and regional authorities on the importance of proper compensation, shared benefits, clearly defined and collectively agreed upon boundaries and on the attention to community needs as well as those of wildlife[xviii]. Although the official park establishment reports include various details on park-villages interactions, none of them is specific in terms of proposed geographic coordinates or descriptions of park lands to border communities. In this regard, and despite TANAPA’s numerous assertions on multi-level engagement with various stakeholders, both village and district level communications and TANAPA’s park establishment records, document recurring issues with: placement of park boundary beacons within village territories[xix], disregard of regional authorities’ direction on boundary limit to the south side of the park (Wami River), non-transparent compensation and unilateral decision-making on location and extent of park lands[xx].

2.2         In the Name of Conservation or for the Sake of Having Prime Coastal Lands

TANAPA’s fixation with Saadani’s prime coastal areas and particularly with Uvinje’s territory is evidenced through the village’s numerous communications to district and national level authorities, and the media. These written manuscripts, including media releases, detail:

  • the persistence of TANAPA authorities that Uvinje’s lands have always been part of Saadani Game Reserve, which to village elders dishonoured previous agreements with the WDD that respected the sub-village’s land rights[xxi];
  • the violations of Uvinje villagers’ basic rights, perpetrated in two different occasions during 2002 where a contingent of game wardens and later of the police force invaded Uvinje’s territory and houses, without warrants, under allegations of criminal activity but found nothing to support/make formal accusations[xxii];
  • Uvinje’s resistance to intimidation and to a District commissioner’ threats of forceful eviction, because of their regard towards collective welfare, their historic territorial connections, and role in enabling conservation[xxiii];
  • the reiterated arguments from Uvinje villagers that they have no problems with the park[xxiv], that they have never being part of SGR, nor that they will come to agree to abandon their traditional territory to give way to TANAPA giving away their land to investors, despite various intimidation tactics by TANAPA[xxv].

Persistent efforts from leaders at the village and sub-village levels eventually led to intervention from district level authorities and the then member of Parliament Mr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete (at present Tanzania’s president), who committed to protect Uvinje’s land rights[xxvi]. In spite of Mr. Kikwete’s declaration, and the support, at different periods in time, from District and Regional level authorities[xxvii], TANAPA has taken no action to reassess the gazetted park lands, but to the contrary has persisted in its efforts to evict villagers from Uvinje’s now gazetted prime coastal land. These efforts have included making announcements on the availability of funds for compensation of Saadani villagers for a total of 200 million shillings[xxviii], which has brought division and conflict among longstanding residents, the creation of at least two different lists of compensation claimants alleged to be from Uvinje[xxix], and persistent lobbying to village, district and higher level supporters to have the villagers finally removed from the currently gazetted coastal strip.


Figure 5. Community conserved areas around Saadani National Park. Areas of importance for ecological connectivity.

2.3            Spatial Control versus Environmental Governance

Interview data and numerous official documents prepared by TANAPA as well as letters released by district and regional authorities and village governments both predating and subsequent to the establishment of the park, describe the struggles between TANAPA and various adjacent villages. These include, for instance, the assertions and actions by Uvinje sub-village to have its land rights recognized and their land ownership reinstated, and the struggles of Porokanya sub-village, whose villagers have, more recently, been made aware by TANAPA on the need to relocate, because it also, apparently, had its lands gazetted as part of the park. Overall, the documents relate to:

  1. Boundary/land conflicts with adjacent communities, which include: a) disputes over the area south of Wami River, whose territory was suggested – by Regional authorities – to remain outside park territory very early in the consultation processes, but ended up being gazetted; b) lack of clarity on park boundaries on the North side of Wami River, where Porokanya (one of Saadani’s coastal sub-villages) lands have been gazetted as park land without the knowledge of Saadani village organs; c) the gazetting as park land of Uvinje sub-village’s coastal land without the permission of village and sub-village authorities, under the argument that it was already a part of the Saadani Game Reserve; d) boundary and related land conflicts with six of the villages over boundaries and territory that is assumed by one side to be part of the village and by the other side to be part of the park, and numerous problems along all Park borders because of ‘moving boundaries’; e) increasing restrictions to what are considered village resources where villagers are penalized for using resources such as materials for construction from within village boundaries or from community conserved areas; f) misallocation of official permanent park beacons, which have been unilaterally placed within village territories despite the importance of involving village authorities; and g) the multiplicity of park boundary layers and areas, which at various times have been assigned to Saadani National Park in official park docs and reports.
  2. Institutional mismatches and conflicts, leading to: a) enmity and institutional antagonism fuelled by attempts at forced expropriation of sub-village territories, which are made despite District level assertions on the need for restitution and degazetting of village lands; b) unilateral planning of park management approaches and goals, affecting institutional interactions and collaboration to address conservation challenges, such as exponentially growing poaching; c) overdue and disregarded compensation disbursements for lands given to/taken by TANAPA, which become a burden to village institutional processes, engender cross-level conflicts and exacerbate poverty; d) institutional misfit for addressing the park’s challenges, where there are fundamental conflicts and contradictions between park rules and village by-laws, and between park approaches to the presence of villagers in park lands and to the primordial connections between villagers and what are now park territories; e) unilaterally established authority prerogatives, manifested through repeated incursions into village lands by park security personnel to identify poachers without engagement of village leaders, and unreported and unrequested trespasses into community conserved areas for unknown reasons;
  3. Contested park management approaches, which: a) disregard economic and other losses from recurrent wildlife crop raiding events where wildlife disruptions go unaddressed, while entry into park territory by villagers and others is dealt with promptly; b) impose a draconian approach to land and wildlife protection, where it is prohibited and legally and physically punishable under the label of “poaching” to visit sacred areas and traditional settlements within park territory or to step into park lands regardless of actual infringement of park rules; c) generate uncertainty and suspicion towards park management decisions, because of unilateral actions on park-village boundaries demarcation (misallocation of park beacons) which have been placed within community lands; and d) sanction the ineffective, infrequent and isolated nature of the park Community Outreach activities, largely focused on presenting videos to schools without collaboration with or engagement in adjacent villages’ conservation or land use planning processes and leadership.

In summary, the SNP boundaries and lands have been officially contested by no less than 6 villages, while at least 4 adjacent villages are engaged in higher level advocacy to have park boundaries reassessed. Of all the villages involved in the research, it is Saadani which faces the greatest challenges on the gazetting of a large part of its coastal territory which, by all accounts, has been done unilaterally. Saadani is also the village with the largest strip of coastal land. Figure 3 shows the approximate extent of former village territories (spatial layers accessed from online source[xxx], based on TZ 2002 National Census) and current portions of land remaining as villages’ territories adjacent to SNP. At present, and after more than a decade of institutional struggles, Uvinje sub-village has resisted TANAPA’s various approaches to take possession of the now sub-village’s gazetted territory and have consistently demanded that their land rights be restored, and continue to reiterate that they are not going to give their traditional territory for any amount of compensation money. Such community assertions and actions certainly challenge traditional conceptions of economic gain as the central motivation in park community-conflicts, and suggest that deeply rooted spatial-cultural territorial connections are as essential as and perhaps even more important to people’s collective welfare than material benefits.

To this day, park governance and management approaches have been unable to gain the support of surrounding villages, which traditionally have been very conservation minded, for addressing poaching and for collaboratively sustaining landscape level conservation efforts. All of which are desperately needed to combat the seven fold increase in poaching activity being faced by the park in the last seven years[xxxi]. Figure 5 shows how no less than 10 of the 13 villages involved in the research have their own community-conserved areas, equivalent to no less than 20% of area identified as park lands. Despite the level of environmental awareness of these adjacent villages and the importance of corridors and ecosystem connectivity to successful ecological conservation, the villages’ conservation efforts have not been linked to park efforts but at present represent a threat to park authorities. For park authorities, it is withinvillages’ conserved areas where more often than not poaching is seen to be taking place.Figure 4 shows the pictures of the still standing two remaining Saadani Game Reservebeacons. The beacons precise geographic location has been excluded, as it seems all of the other reserve beacons have been previously removed by park authorities.



[i] Environmental Change & Coastal Protected Areas: The Role of Knowledge, Institutions and Multi-level Governance in Adaptive Capacity is a comparative research project that explores spatial and Institutional dynamics in multi-level environmental governance in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve on Vancouver, Island, Canada and the Saadani National Park in Tanzania. For more info contact:

[ii] Adam Sururu. 1994. History of Saadani Village and Saadani Game Reserve Document. Saadani village document archives.

[iii] The Wildlife Conservation. Games Reserves Order, Section 8. Official Gazette. G.N. No. 275 of 1974. & Village archive docs on history of the reserve.

[iv] Saadani Game Reserve Reports from 1968, 1969 and 1970. Located at Game Reserve General Docs, Tanzanian National Archives.

[v]Tobler et al. 2003. The impact of cattle ranching on large-scale vegetation patterns in a coastal savanna in Tanzania. Journal of Applied Ecology 40:430-444. A journal article for which extensive spatial data analysis was carried out.

[vi] The Wildlife Conservation Game Reserve Orders. Section 8. Official Gazette. G.N. No. 275 of 1974.

[vii] Tanzania National Parks Report to Bagamoyo District Board on the proposition to establish a national park in Bagamoyo District. 2001 November 9. 3 leaf. Saadani village archives.

[viii] Two game reserve beacons (posts demarcating the boundaries of the reserve) were located during the course of the research presented here. Based on elders’ accounts of the former reserve boundaries, Uvinje villagers’ identified two of these cement posts showing the boundary, which is vaguely described in the official gazette. These seem to be two of the few beacons that remain from the time of the reserve, as the other are said, according to community respondents from Saadani, to have been removed and piled up at SNP headquarters years ago.

[ix] Minutes from the Bagamoyo District Board dated November 9, 2001, describes how discussions to consent to the establishment of the Saadani national park are guided by TANAPA’s report and “according to the map of the game reserve” also provided by TANAPA. It is during this meeting that the District delegates agree to upgrade the Saadani Game Reserve to a National Park. Park establishment documents, Saadani village archives.

[x] Institute of Resource Assessment, University of Dar Es Salaam. 1996. Environmental Evaluation for Tourism Development in the Saadani Game Reserve. Report Commissioned by the Wildlife Division, Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.

[xi] H. S. Mahinda. 1970. Saadani Game Reserve Development Progress Report for the year 1970. The report mentions the establishment of a village tourism board, to oversee tourism activities in the reserve, employment generation and youth training among other developments to support tourism and conservation.

[xii] Pangani District Commissioner’s Office’s letter addressed to: Wildlife Division Executive. 1974 June 4th. 3 leaf. Located at Game Reserve General Docs, Tanzanian National Archives. The Mkwaja South area was added to the reserve around 1996.

[xiii] TANAPA. 2002. Proposal to Establish a National Park Document. Saadani Village Files. The documents mentions TANAPA’s activities in interacting with villagers and agencies at district, regional and national level to assess the feasibility of increasing the size and status of SGR to a National Park. These discussions were supported by and also included researchers and representatives from international organizations, including GTZ, WWF and Fondo per la Terra as prominent ones.

[xiv] Letter from Bagamoyo District Board on the Regional Commissioner’s visit to Uvinje, July 18, 2001. Letters from Uvinje Chairman to the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance & various District, Regional and National level authorities, July 10, 2002. Letter from Uvinje Chairman to the Bagamoyo District Commissioner & various District, Regional and National level authorities, March 1, 2003. Independent Daily Newspaper (Majira) report on Uvinje’s refusal to vacate their land, March 12, 2003.

[xv] Proposal to Establish a National Park. Document prepared by TANAPA and presented to the Bagamoyo District Council, January 31, 2001. In it TANAPA clearly states that “the sub-village of Uvinje is located in the reserve illegally. A mistake was done by letting people live there and the population grew by the day”. In this same document TANAPA again says that “residents have been shown the need to vacate”4 leaf. Park Establishment Documents, Saadani village archives.

[xvi] In the GR gazette it is stated: “Commencing from the point where the Ruvu/Moyusi railway line crosses the Mligaji river the boundary follows the north side of the said river downstream to the Indian Ocean; thence in a southerly direction along a cleared and beaconed line for approximately eight kilometres to a beacon situated about half a kilometre north of Saadani Village; thence following a cleared and beaconed line, leaving Saadani village and Marumbi salt-works to the east, in a south-easterly direction to the point where the Wami river enters the sea;”. By stating a “cleared beaconed line” it directly suggests the limit was not the Indian Ocean. Again considering that “Saadani and Marumbi salt-works are located to the East” and the boundary line is “following a south-easterly direction” suggests that the border line was inland rather than along the coast line. This same part of the gazette text also suggests that Porokanya sub-village is outside the reserve boundaries, because Porokanya’s location is north of Wami’s river mouth, right along the coast.

[xvii] Tanzania National Parks. Steps Taken to Establish SNP and Current Situation in Bagamoyo Report. The report indicates that the establishment has largely involved public participation through meetings, workshops and forums, where stakeholders/delegates were informed of and consented to the establishment of the park.

[xviii] Bagamoyo District Board Minutes 2001 and 2002. Matipwili and Saadani Village document archives.

[xix] Matipwili Village Office Letter. Minutes to resolve disputes between Matipwili and the Saadani National Park, July 28, 2011. Park establishment documents, Matipwili Village archives. Interviews with leaders from villages connected to the Madete area also identified misplacement of park beacons and lack of engagement of village organs in boundary demarcation as challenges.

[xx] Bagamoyo District Commissioner’ letter addressed to TANAPA, the Regional Commissioner & the then Member of Parliament Mr. J. Kikwete. Dispute between TANAPA and residents of Saadani, Matipwili-Java and Mkange villages, March 12, 2005. Park establishment documents, Matipwili village archives. This letters provides clear descriptions on the actions – and lack of accountability on the part of Bagamoyo District Leaders and the Saadani Park authorities- who have not addressed the multiple issues the villages have with the park on compensation, land usurpation and lack of transparency, including the issues of Uvinje sub-village.

[xxi] Adam Sururu. 2004. Account released to the media and authorities on: TANAPA’s harmful actions towards Uvinje sub-village. Uvinje village archives.

[xxii] Uvinje Chairman Letter to the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance. Is this oppression part of human rights and good governance in the country? October 7, 2002. Uvinje village archives.

[xxiii] Uvinje Village Letter to Bagamoyo District Commissioner. Re: Report to vacate the sub-village and pave the way for animals or be forcefully evicted. March 1, 2003. Uvinje village archives

[xxiv] Minutes of a meeting of the residents of Uvinje, November 26, 2006. In this letter the Uvinje membership clearly states that they have no problems with the SGR being part of the park, but with their land being taken as part of the park. This minutes also describe the numerous grievances against TANAPA and lists their numerous appeals to various authorities.

[xxv] The Independent Daily Newspaper. Article: Villagers swear to die to protect the village. March 12, 2003.

[xxvi] On March 21, 2003. Mr. Jakaya M. Kikwete visits Uvinje and commits to protect their land rights. Source: Interviews and Uvinje village archives.

[xxvii] Letter from the Bagamoyo District Commissioner to the Head of the Saadani National Park. Implementation of the Regional Commissioner’s instructions during his visit to the villages neighbouring SNP, December 1, 2006. This letter directly addressed to TANAPA describes clearly the Regional Commissioner’s orders that Uvinje residents should not be moved and that their land rights should be reinstated.

[xxviii] Uvinje village letter to the Regional Commissioner. Re rumours about the millions of compensation for TANAPA where one was left dead in the fracas, June 22, 2004. Uvinje village archives. The letter elaborates on TANAPA’s approach to reach to residents of Saadani village, who are less involved and/or non-residents of Uvinje, to be included as compensation claimants, which has brought divisions between Uvinje and Saadani.

[xxix] An election ballot dating back to 1999, provides a list of the adult residents of Uvinje at that time. This list does not coincide with one of TANAPA’s list of Uvinje’s compensation claimants from June 9, 2004, all of which are mostly unknown to Uvinje and Saadani leaders. In a similar manner, subsequent lists of Uvinje compensation claimants provided by TANAPA after 2004, at different years, does primarily show people whose residence has never located in the sub-village.

[xxx] Tanzania_EA_2002. GIS Database, Census Parameters, EA 2002. Product of FSDT made by digitization of paper maps of NBS 2002 Census. Available Online:

[xxxi] SNP Resource Security Annual Report, 2011-2012.


Author: Alejandra Orozco-Quintero, PhD candidate at the University of Victoria, Canada. 

And from the local press:

JK asked to intervene in ‘Tanapa row’

By Sturmius Mtweve ,The Citizen Reporter,   Wednesday, May 28  2014

Dar es Salaam. Residents of Uvinje Village in Bagamoyo District have asked President JakayaKikwete to intervene and resolve the land dispute between them and Saadani National Park (Sanapa).

The conflict, according to the villagers, resulted from the government move to change the status of the then Saadani Game Reserve (SGR) to Saadani National Park through a 2005 Government Notice.

Speaking in Dar es Salaam yesterday, Mr Hossein Salehe, Uvinje Village chairperson said the 2005 decision did not involve consultations with the villagers.

The expansion strategy, however, required villagers who were living in Uvinje to vacate to allow for smooth operations of the park –a move that villagers opposed.

“We would like the President having served as Chalinze MP, and being aware of the prevailing conflict, help us in reaching consensus before something bad happens,” said Mr Salehe, adding that they are the ones who mooted the the idea of having a Game Reserve at Saadani.

, but we have kept wondering why government decided to change the status of SGR using the top down approach that excluded us from taking part in decision making.”

According to a Fact-finding Mission Report from the Saadanipresented by HakiArdhi yesterday shows that the existing conflicts is a result of the expansion of SGR to Sanapa and involved extension borders beyond the borders of the former SGR without proper consultation with the neighboring legal authorities (villages).

Presenting the findings, Mr ValentinNgorisa, programme officer at HakiArdhi, said the main cause of the prevailing conflict results from the Park’s struggle to evict villagers from their traditional residences on claims that they are illegal occupants of the land and are against wildlife conservation laws.

Mr Ngorisasaid SGR was established in 1968, but since its move to change it to Sanapa in 2005, has resulted into an endless land conflicts between the two parties.

According to HakiArdhi report, there has been a tug-of-war between the Park and villagers, each part accusing the other for violating set laws and regulations.

They told the press that there are also conflicting decisions and statements being issuedby government leaders, in which some are for the eviction while others are against the move.

Villagers say they have had several consultations with government leaders in an attempt to resolve the issue but all has been in vain.


Why Uvinje villagers, Saadani National Park locked in land wrangles

Dar es Salaam. A showdown is looming between residents of Uvinje village and the government as the latter is planning to evict the villagers from their lands.

The government is saying the villagers are staying inside Saadani national park, something the villagers are bitterly against and the two sides have so far failed to reach to a common ground.

Information gathered by The Citizen on Sunday from villagers in Saadani, show that there is a high possibility for fracas at the place between residents, Saadani National Park officials and police officers, upon failed intervention steps on the matter.

The alarming dispute results from the existing tug-of-war between Tanapa which brands villagers as illegal occupants of the area, while villagers maintain their stance that they have been at the place for decades.

Late May this year, residents of Uvinje Village in Bagamoyo District made their plea to no success to President Jakaya Kikwete to intervene and resolve the land dispute between them and Saadani National Park (Sanapa).

According to Mr Hosseni Salehe, the chairperson of Uvinje Village, Sanapa expropriation and compensation team on Thursday last week accompanied by armed police patrolled the village for evaluations.

Sanapa team had to call for police backing since they failed to do their evaluations on Wednesday after confrontations with angry villagers.

That was the second time for villagers to confront the Sanapa team. Now, with the survey ready, what remained is eviction, he said.

However, speaking with The Citizen on Sunday Mr Pascal Shelutete, Tanapa public relations manager, rebuffed claims that villagers at Uvinje will be forcefully evicted from the disputed land, saying what is going on now is the evaluation exercise taking place to determine how much each citizen will be compensated.

“What I know is that the people will be evicted from the place through legal procedures, there is no such a thing of forcefully evicting them,” Mr Shelutete said

On reverse, reliable sources from the villages confide that the eviction, which they believe is imminent within the next few days, in no way will be executed peacefully. Big confrontations between the villagers and the Sanapa officials –and whoever is involved in the saga, should be expected.

According to the Fact-finding Mission Report from the Saadani presented by HakiArdhi recently, the existing land conflict results from the expansion of Saadani Game Reserve (SGR) to Sanapa –which involved extension beyond SGR borders without proper consultation with local communities.

“The conflict between the two parts resulted from the government initiative to change the status of the then Saadani Game Reserve (SGR) formed in 1965 to Saadani National Park through a 2005 Government Notice,” reads the report in part.