Africa’s version of the famed Galápagos Islands, the Bazaruto Archipelago and surrounding marine environment is a complex and unique ecosystem, well protected by its isolation. Harbouring one of the last viable populations of dugong along the entire East African coast, the Bazarutos command some of the most pristine coral reefs in the Indian Ocean. In descending order of size, Bazaruto, Benguerra, Magaruque, Santa Carolina (also known as Paradise Island) and tiny undeveloped Bangué Island each have their own charm and character.
Amid the turquoise shallows surrounding each island, in the tidal inlets and shaded sea pastures opening into the deep Mozambique Channel, a wealth of marine life exists. For conservationists the uniqueness of this archipelago lies in its fragile diversity. Wildlife ranges from migrant bird species, frigate birds and falcons to crocodiles lurking in the brackish inland lakes. At least five species of turtle have their breeding ground here, while various antelope, rodents, lizards and snakes inhabit the massive mobile sand dunes and adjacent scrubland.
For the moment, only part of Bazaruto, Benguerra and a narrow strip of adjacent sea have been designated as a national park but it is hoped that co-operation between the WWF International, Endangered Wildlife Trust, Southern African Nature Foundation, International Wilderness Leadership Foundation and Lodge and Hotel owners will lead to a sound conservation management policy, uniting all the islands under the protection of a greater ‘Parque Nacional do Arquipélago do Bazaruto’.