This October Dahari was privileged to welcome to Anjouan a delegation from the Naturalistes de Mayotte. The Mayotte Association for Naturalists, Environment and Heritage (www.naturalistesmayotte.fr) aims to teach people about Mayotte’s natural and cultural heritage and to inspire them to protect that heritage. This partnership was an opportunity to exchange knowledge and points of view centring on a mutual passion: that of the Comoros archipelago. “I loved meeting the people and finding out about what Dahari has achieved, all of which portrays a positive picture of the country.”
In Mutsamudu our tourists got lost in the Medina (the capital’s Arab quarter) and trod upon the stones of the famous citadel. In Domoni, they visited the mausoleum of Ahmed Abdallah and the Royal Palace of Abdallah III. In the island’s interior they journeyed to the Dzialande lake. In Bambao, after a trip to the Royal Palace of Mawana, they had their first taste of maize stew during one of the communal meals, which were valuedmoments of connection with the local population. “I found Anjouan very moving. The people are welcoming and full of smiles, and their daily life demands respect and admiration.”
On the southern coast they got to know Moya, one of the Comoros islands’ oldest villages, which had long been cut off from above by the Moya forest and from below by the Ouvanga ridge, but was reconnected after independence by the construction of Anjouan’s only tunnel. And they made the most of its beautiful beach.
In terms of fauna, flora and ecosystems, they were able to glimpse the famous Livingstone’s fruit bat including watching mothers carrying around their babies, as well as seeing native birds, aromatic plants such as Ylang Ylang, clove, lemon grass, orchids and medicinal plants. Finally, not far from Sima they had the chance to see one of the branched coconut palms, a rare and striking phenomenon.
Our tourists were impressed by the market gardening production on the island. In addition, they were especially moved by the issue of deforestation on Anjouan, which has caused the Lingoni hydroelectric power plant – which usually supplies the villages on the south side of the island – to function erratically. “I loved the balance between nature, culture and the social dimension – seeing the scenery, some historical sites and getting a first-hand view of what the lives of farmers are like.”
Dahari’s expertise and sustainable tourism
Dahari offers a sustainable tourism founded on respect for people and nature, on a wild island still sheltered from mass tourism. This activity generates direct profit for the local population, as well as bringing indirect revenues through reinvestment of any profit that Dahari makes into its field activities. That’s what the Mayotte Naturalists really liked: “This eco-tourism experience makes you feel like you’ve come face to face with real lives”, “I really enjoyed this type of trip, which gave the opportunity for real dialogue with local people, a sincere and spontaneous encounter.”
The central theme of this journey of discovery was Dahari’s mission for the sustainable management of natural resources. Our friends also learnt in detail about Dahari’s activities in the villages and were able to meet beneficiaries of Dahari’s work. They suggested that for a future visit we organise “a morning of physical work on a plot” in order to “lend a hand for harvesting, collecting or hedging.”
“I’m especially impressed by the quality of the NGO’s work. You don’t often see an organisation’s employees going to such effort, with genuine concern for involving those who will benefit from the work, respecting their needs: that much is clear from the quality of the links that have been developed with the people.”
Dahari’s strength lies particularly with its expert team, made up of agronomists who are well integrated into the communities – such as Badrou, for example – and biodiversity specialists like Ishaka and Amélaid, who knew how to share their knowledge and how to listen to the tourists and their questions: “The combination of Badrou, Ishaka and Amélaid gives three voices to show and explain a complex reality, that of the land.”
Check out the naturalists’ photo album here on our Facebook page Facebook..
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And you can read Lonely Planet’s article on tourism in the Comoros which features Dahari here: lonelyplanet.com.