Area: 10 km2
Location: Northeast of Mozambique
Number of inhabitants: 3,963 in 2007
Number of visitors:
Tourists: ~1,000 per year
Protected island: yes
Marine protection status: Quirimbas National Park
Ibo, located off the coast of Mozambique, is the former capital of the province of Quirimbas. It was a trading post for the Arabs, the Portuguese, the Dutch, the Persians, the Indians and the French, as evidenced by the many architectural remains. Ibo has a rich biodiversity, in particular a lagoon in very good condition, which is still home to many protected species. This heritage is unfortunately threatened by a sometimes illegal commercial fishery and growing pollution by waste.
Ibo Island is part of the Quirimbas Archipelago. This archipelago is made up of a chain of 27 islands in the province of Cabo Delgado, which stretches from the north of Pemba to the border with Tanzania. The island is located about 10 km off the coast of Mozambique, 80 km from the town of Pemba.
Ibo is known for the richness of its built heritage. Religious monuments, shops, houses and fortifications bear witness to the architectural syncretism between Portuguese, Arab, Indian cultures and traditional Swahili culture, in particular by the fusion of the plans of the traditional square Swahili houses (built in coral stone) with the colonial plans.
Swahili culture and the Muslim religion are deeply rooted in the region and in Ibo, which retains certain traditional beliefs and practices. The population is very young – 50% is under the age of 14 – and suffers from a high rate of unemployment. Apart from the State apparatus and tourism, most economic activities are subsistence activities (fishing, agriculture) or small commercial activities. There are a few lodges, which generally welcome tourists with an eco-tourist approach.
The main activity is traditional subsistence fishing. It tends to become commercial by exporting frozen or dried fish, crabs and sea cucumbers. There is also a very small-scale subsistence agriculture there.
The creation of the Quirimbas National Park is linked to the desire to manage conflicts of use around natural resources. The major conflicts are linked to the depletion of stocks linked to overfishing practiced by industrial fishing and to direct human-wildlife conflicts in the mainland of the Park. It also responds to the desire to find new sources of income and appropriate management mechanisms, to fight against the circle of poverty that has started for several years (in particular in connection with the problems of cashews and coconuts, which represented the traditional cultures of the inhabitants).
Tourism is seen as an alternative source of income that can improve the living conditions of residents.
The area is considered particularly important in terms of biodiversity, especially marine, and is part of the East African Marine Strategic Ecoregion.
The coral reef is in very good condition (more than 48 species identified), and there is a great diversity of species of fish, mangroves, seagrass, molluscs and macro-algae (particularly remarkable species in the intertidal zones).
The unique topography of the seabed is the source of the diversity of habitats. Numerous dugongs, dolphins, as well as sharks and whales inhabit the area.
Ibo Island is a nesting site for more than 700 species of birds, 10 of which are threatened.
Given the above context, Ibo Island faces several challenges. The management of fresh water with salinization of the water table and pollution of wells remains a major objective and although many projects have been devised or launched, work remains to be done to make the ideas a reality.
The collection, sorting, storage, recycling and disposal of waste are today one of the major objectives of the island. Indeed, this waste has contaminated certain water resources, and represents a threat to soils and biodiversity (marine and terrestrial).
Fishery resources and the marine ecosystem are now globally preserved but threatened by fishing that is intensifying and evolving towards practices that are less respectful of biodiversity. The challenge for Ibo is therefore to support this development while preserving fishery resources and the lagoon.
Despite legislation prohibiting construction on the seaside, there is significant and poorly controlled urbanization of the coast. Enforcing national regulations and those of the National Park is a challenge in terms of landscape and biodiversity preservation.