Tanzania: Welcome to the Island of Dr Moreau

 

Rubondo Island, on Lake Victoria, is a mysterious place. A tropical island covered in thick rain forest, with an ideal climate (20-25 degrees year-round), pristine beaches and giant trees that look right out of “Avatar”, it could be a perfect resort island…except for the unseen creatures ruffling leaves in the jungle and the spine-chilling cries in the night.

Since the 1960’s, Rubondo has been a National Park and its only human population lives at the small lodge we stayed at and at the ranger post. When Rubondo was first gazetted as a National Park, it served as a haven for animals rescued from the wars in the Congo and from European circuses and laboratories. These introduced species have since expanded and colonized the island, but outside of their normal environment and family structure, they have gotten somewhat out of control.

The young elephants brought in without their mothers to teach them manners have become exceedingly mischievous ; the descendants of the traumatized chimps out of the test labs have a deep terror of humans but prey on the native Sitatunga antelopes.

And the monstrous Nile Perch, introduced in Lake Victoria a few decades ago, has wiped out almost the entire population of native fish. The Nile Perch is a fish which just keeps growing as long as it can feed. The larger specimens are 250kg juggernauts…and they’re still growing.

In that environment where nature has gone haywire, the smal lodge we stay at for three days is a haven of civilization and refinement…which just adds to the Dr Moreau feel of the island !

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