Category Archives: Conservation

Creatures Great & Small: Leopard Tortoise

December 22, 2014 - Conservation,Did You Know?,Wildlife

Leopard tortoise at Singita

Leopard tortoise (Stigmochelys pardalis)

My partner, a tracker named Johnston, is quick to spot wildlife and fun… With his hand raised to stop the vehicle, we stare at his movements and look in the direction he’s looking. While we are expecting him to point out a predator track in the sand or an animal in the distance, he turns to us and says, “Leopard!” Everyone grabs their cameras and looks frantically around to see where this elusive leopard is. Johnston climbs off the tracker seat and saunters off down the road. By this time our poor guests are all speechless not knowing what’s going to happen. Then he points to the ground, smiles broadly, and announces, “Leopard. Leopard tortoise.” Indeed it was a leopard tortoise, and on this occasion it had retreated into its shell after feeling the vibrations of the vehicle. We all sat quietly and slowly a small head poked out and all four legs were set in motion. It may not be a Big Five species, but it is one of the Little Five and shares this accreditation due to their names being similar to the Big Five.

Field guide and tracker

Field guide and tracker

Leopard tortoises all have unique and beautiful gold and black markings on their shells, hence their name. They generally eat grasses, and this must suit them well because they live up to 100 years. They are great diggers although they only burrow when building a nest for their eggs.

Singita Sabi Sand

Singita Sabi Sand

The leopard tortoise is one of the world’s largest tortoise species as they can grow to 70 cm in length and 12kgs in weight. As with other tortoise species, the leopard tortoise has a large shell which protects its softer body. It is able to retract its limbs back into its shell so that no body part is left vulnerable.

It’s easy to forget that there’s more to Africa’s wildlife than elephants, giraffes, leopards and lions; the continent is home to all sorts of fascinating small creatures too. We shine a spotlight on these more diminutive beasties in our Creatures Great & Small blog series, which has previously showcased the flap-necked chameleon and the Giant African land snail.

You can read more stories like this one in our monthly Wildlife Reports, which are written by our field guides and illustrated with their stunning photography.

Read More


World Rhino Day 2014

September 22, 2014 - Conservation,Sabi Sand,Sustainable Conservation,Wildlife

World Rhino Day was established in 2010 and serves to celebrate all five species of rhino: Black, white, greater one-horned, Sumatran and Javan rhinos. It is celebrated every year on 22 September and has grown to become a global phenomenon, uniting NGOs, zoos, cause-related organisations, businesses, and concerned individuals from nearly every corner of the world.

Singita Anti-Poaching Unit | World Rhino Day 2014

It is devastating to think that 500 000 rhinos once roamed the continents of Africa and Asia, and that this figure has dwindled to a mere 29 000 rhinos living in the wild*. Large-scale poaching of this now critically endangered species has prompted intensive conservation efforts in recent years, not least of all by our wildlife teams at Singita.

Singita Anti-Poaching Unit | World Rhino Day 2014

Today, the environmental stakes couldn’t be higher, as poaching methods have become increasingly sophisticated and poachers more daring. One way in which Singita Sabi Sand takes a stand against the unlawful massacre of these majestic creatures, is with the dedicated in-house anti-poaching unit that secures the safety and preservation of the species in the reserve. Working with specialists in counteracting illegal hunting and wildlife trade, a highly trained tracker dog unit was created to track both animals and humans. This tactic is being included in many national parks’ security operations, including the Kruger National Park and the units have become an integral part of Singita’s anti-poaching measures.

Singita Anti-Poaching Unit | World Rhino Day 2014

Mark Broodryk, Head Guide at Singita Sabi Sand says, “The biggest advantage of a dog unit is that the dogs track using their keen sense of smell and thus are extremely effective – even tracking in pitch darkness.” The dogs’ work rate and endurance surpasses that of a human and they ask for very little in return for the unenviable tasks they are called to do. Highly trained and able to perform multiple functions from pursuing intruders to tracking sick or injured animals or sniffing out products from illegal possessions, the dogs are highly valued, professional assets supporting important conservation initiatives.

Singita Anti-Poaching Unit | World Rhino Day 2014

Another reason for the success of the canine operation is that their presence acts as a deterrent to potential poachers. Once tracking dogs have been deployed into an area, the news quickly spreads amongst poachers and criminal syndicates and the level and frequency of poaching incidents is shown to drop dramatically.

*Statistics courtesy of savetherhino.org

Sustainable tourism is what allows Singita to be able to carry out this important work. Each guest represents a valuable contribution towards conservation measures in the reserve. Not only does the revenue from tourism support conservation initiatives, but just by coming to see this place, putting value on it and sharing the beauty with others, it inherently makes a world of difference.

For guests seeking to make a larger contribution, donations are accepted and welcome. Please contact Pam Richardson at pam.r@singita.com.

Read More


The Cutest Cubs

August 04, 2014 - Conservation,Kruger National Park,Wildlife

Lions cubs at Singita Kruger National Park

Lions cubs at Singita Kruger National Park

Singita Kruger National Park is especially well-known for its exceptional big cat population, as well as a remarkable concentration of the rest of the ‘Big 5’. They have free reign over Singita’s 33 000-acre concession in the southeastern reaches of the Kruger National Park, and beyond.

Lions cubs at Singita Kruger National Park

Lions cubs at Singita Kruger National Park

There are a number of large “mega prides” in the area, the sheer size of which is forcing groups to split off and create their own prides and start new bloodlines in the process. In April this year, it was reported that the five Shishangaan males had fought their way in and taken over the territory from two previous males. This led to copious mating activity, the results of which we are starting to see in the N’wanetsi section of the Park.

Lions cubs at Singita Kruger National Park

Lions cubs at Singita Kruger National Park

In the June Wildlife Report from the region, field guide Nick du Plessis says: “The Mountain pride of lions is, and has been for a while, growing at a rapid rate. To date we’ve seen a total of fifteen cubs in the northern half of the Xhikelengane drainage, with a couple of adult females still looking very heavily pregnant – and cubs from them are imminent. The pride at this point is still fairly fragmented, which is by no means unusual, with most of the cubs still being too young to leave den-sites and follow the pride. This should all change once the cubs reach the age where they are introduced to the rest of the pride, at which point they only have a couple of months before they are weaned and the pride needs its strength in numbers. With the small pans and waterholes slowly drying up, water is becoming less readily available with the defining change of the season. With all the general game concentrating where there is still a place to drink it won’t be long before all the pride members will converge at this point.”

Lions cubs at Singita Kruger National Park

lion_cubs_6

The photos you see here are by field guide and wildlife photographer Barry Peiser, who tracked the lions while working at Singita Kruger National Park. He observed the Mountain pride moving with their cubs between the northern and eastern parts of the concession, hiding the youngsters in the drainage line where long grass and fallen tress offer good coverage for them.

Lions cubs at Singita Kruger National Park

You can follow the antics of these gorgeous little cubs on Facebook and in our monthly Wildlife Reports. You can also subscribe to the blog to see more of Barry’s photos of the cubs in the coming weeks.

Read More


Singita Boulders Lodge: A Sustainable Solution

July 11, 2014 - Accommodation,Conservation,Environment,Sabi Sand,Singita Boulders Lodge

As the first guests start to experience the newly refurbished Singita Boulders Lodge, we celebrate the achievements of the talented people behind the stunning new look. Responsible for the vision, creative direction, interior architecture and design is Boyd Ferguson and his team from Cécile & Boyd. Drawing inspiration from the natural setting and environment and responsible for recreating the lodge’s physical spaces is architect Sally Tsiliyiannis from GAPP Architects & Urban Designers. Every effort has been made to reuse and recycle all the building materials, as Sally explained in a recent report from the site while the work was under way:

Singita Boulders Lodge | Photo by Peter Browne, Conde Nast Traveller

“Every door broken out has been repositioned somewhere else. Nearly all the new balustrading is actually just sections of the old balustrade removed from elsewhere and re-used.

Singita Boulders Lodge | Photo by Peter Browne, Conde Nast Traveller

By this time next week, literally 100% of the stones from demolished walls will have been reused. Natural features that were previously covered up have been uncovered and new decking has been carefully shaped around these so they are now main features within the design. Superfluous areas of decking have been cut back to make way for more foliage and where decks have been lowered the views of the river are less obstructed. Nearly all the building rubble is being used as backfill for the new gabion walls to minimise waste.”

Singita Boulders Lodge | Photo by Peter Browne, Conde Nast Traveller

This environmentally sensitive approach is an extension of Singita’s dedication to ecotourism and “touching the earth lightly”. Environmentally conscious hospitality, sustainable conservation and the empowerment of local communities is the guiding light for everything we do. You can find out more about our sustainable practices on the website, as well as a recent success story in Tanzania, where Singita Mara River Tented Camp has become our first “off the grid” property, setting a benchmark for responsible but luxurious travel.

Singita Boulders Lodge | Photo by Peter Browne, Conde Nast Traveller

Photos by Peter Browne, Associate Editor of Condé Nast Traveller who was lucky enough to get a sneak peek before the lodge formally reopened. You can see more photos of the newly refurbished lodge in our latest blog post and follow us on Instagram for more.

Read More


Say Hello to the Butamtam Lion Cubs!

June 13, 2014 - Conservation,Experience,Safari,Singita Grumeti,Wildlife

These pictures hardly need a caption – we would be surprised if you could tear your eyes away from their little furry faces long enough to read it! If you are interested however, you may like to know that these gorgeous young lions are offspring of the Butamtam pride at Singita Grumeti in Tanzania. These lions are healthy breeders; over the past two years one of the major prides got so big that it split into two, and two of the other prides seem to be heading in the same direction. In addition, all of their cubs have higher than usual survival rates which is wonderful to hear.

The Butamtam lion cubs at Singita Grumeti by Ryan Schmitt

The Butamtam lion cubs at Singita Grumeti by Ryan Schmitt

butamtam_cubs_3

Photos by Field Guide Ryan Schmitt. Ryan regularly posts snapshots from his adventures in the bush on our Facebook and Instagram feeds so follow us there to see more!

Read More


The Migration 2014 Arrives at Singita Grumeti

May 20, 2014 - Community Development,Conservation,Experience,Safari,Singita Grumeti,Singita Sasakwa Lodge,Wildlife

It’s that time of year again! The wildebeest have started arriving on the Sasakwa Plains of the Serengeti and the herds seem to be multiplying at an astonishing rate with each passing day. Overnight, the grassland below Singita Sasakwa Lodge has been flooded by tens of thousands of wildebeest, making for some very exciting horseback game-spotting for our lucky guests.

The Great Migration 2014 | Singita Grumeti

The Great Migration 2014 | Singita Grumeti

The Great Migration 2014 | Singita Grumeti

The Great Migration 2014 | Singita Grumeti

The Great Migration 2014 | Singita Grumeti

The Great Migration 2014 | Singita Grumeti

The Great Migration 2014 | Singita Grumeti

The Great Migration 2014 | Singita Grumeti

Singita Grumeti, situated adjacent to the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, is an integral part of the Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem, the home of the Great Migration. Singita manages 350,000 acres of this land, and generates the funds necessary to ensure the long-term sustainability of the reserve via low impact tourism. Visit our website to find out more about our conservation and community development projects in the area.

Read More


Touching the Earth Lightly: Celebrating Earth Day 2014

April 22, 2014 - Conservation,Conservation,Did You Know?,Environment,Experience,Lamai,Lodges and Camps,Singita Mara River Tented Camp

Singita celebrates Earth Day

Earth Day is honoured every year on April 22, in a worldwide show of support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970, and is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network, and celebrated in more than 192 countries each year. Singita’s lodges and camps are committed to “touching the earth lightly”, and this is manifested in the way the lodges are constructed; how they operate today; and how guests experience the wildlife and the natural habitat around them.

Singita celebrates Earth Day

Singita Mara River Tented Camp is the epitome of sustainable tourism and consciously seeks to eliminate the unnecessary use of energy. In keeping with this philosophy, the camp operates “off-the-grid” and relies on a custom designed solar power system, with an inverter battery bank that ensures an uninterrupted power source at night or on rainy days. The photo voltaic solar panels used to harvest energy from the sun supply electricity to the camp’s energy-saving LEDs lights, pool pump, and washing machines, among other things.

Singita celebrates Earth Day

The camp’s potable water comes from a borehole near the site and is, in turn, heated by solar geysers. Although this water is drinkable, Singita is also planning an additional filtering system which will be in place before the end of the year, eliminating the need to use any plastic bottled water at this location.

Singita celebrates Earth Day

The camp has been purpose-built to be environmentally conscious, and as a result has a clean and efficient recycling programme that is leading the way for the rest of Singita’s lodges. Waste management is extremely important to this process. For example, fresh produce is transported and wrapped using traditional methods, such as recycled wooden boxes and wood chips or sawdust for packing. These boxes are then returned to the local supplier for the following week so that no plastic or modern packaging is used, eliminating unnecessary waste going into the country’s landfills.

Singita celebrates Earth Day

To limit the construction footprint, Singita Mara River Tented Camp makes use of a series of open-air decks instead of separate buildings for the gym and spa. Energetic guests have access to yoga mats, kettle bells and jump ropes, while the spa offers treatments on the decks or in the tents, without using any electrical equipment. Toiletries used in the lodge are also all organic.

Singita celebrates Earth Day

Singita’s achievements with the efficient and environmentally-friendly construction and operations of Singita Mara River Tented Camp are significant in light of our planet’s ongoing struggle to maintain balance and fight climate change. The wonderful “lightness” of this property will serve as a template for all future lodge designs, setting a benchmark for responsible but luxurious travel.

Singita celebrates Earth Day

Conservation lives hand-in-hand with ecotourism and community development at Singita. We believe it’s the responsible way to maintain and extend the sustainability of our wildlife reserves. Read more about our conservation efforts on our website.

Read More


Beekeeping for Biodiversity

April 04, 2014 - Community Development,Conservation,Did You Know?,Singita Grumeti,The Grumeti Fund,Wildlife

Beekeeping in Tanzania | Singita Grumeti Fund

Singita Grumeti

There has been much written about the plight of bees on a global scale, and the disastrous impact their dwindling populations could have on commercial agriculture and food production. Looking closer to home, the conservation of bees in particular is critical to the survival of local plant life; a crucial element of sustainable environmental conservation and biodiversity enrichment.

At Singita Grumeti in Tanzania, through the Grumeti Fund and the local outreach programme, beekeeping projects have been promoted in local communities since 2010, who in turn earn an income from the sale of honey. This way, the community is supported while the bees’ natural habitat is preserved, and serves as a great example of how conservation and community development are integrally connected.

Beekeeping in Tanzania | Singita Grumeti Fund

To date, seven beekeeping groups and various individuals and families have become involved in the project, and are now responsible for 744 beehives. Among the most successful groups is the Bonchugu Community, under the thoughtful leadership of Amos Matiku. He is described as an energetic, enthusiastic and a results-oriented person who never gives up.

“I first heard about the beekeeping project from a Community Outreach officer in 2011 and although skeptical at first, eventually myself and nine others in the community applied to join the project,” Amos says.

Beekeeping in Tanzania | Singita Grumeti Fund

It started with 20 hives, and members had to contribute 33% of the cost of running each hive, with the Grumeti Fund providing all necessary support needed for the project. In a very short time, the hives were stocked with bees and the members were able to see the fruits of their labour. In June 2012, the group celebrated their first harvest, and just 2 days laters were able to sell all the honey. The income generated covered the initial contribution of each member and they decided as a group to reinvest the profits in order to grow the project.

33 more hives were added, and in 2013, their harvest was the most successful in the whole Serengeti, which afforded them to opportunity to attend an international exhibition in Dar es Salaam. Their organic acacia honey was the show’s bestseller and allowed them to raise additional funds for the project. The group was also invited to attend another regional exhibition and are deservedly proud of their achievements so far.

Beekeeping in Tanzania | Singita Grumeti Fund

The Grumeti Fund also facilitates training for the group, helping them to stay abreast of the latest in beekeeping technology. Amos says: “Through this programme, we have realised the impact conservation can have on all our lives. The acacia forests which were previously degraded are now flourishing with new growth. Beekeeping has created employment and income for local families, while helping to conserve our land and its wildlife.”

Beekeeping in Tanzania | Singita Grumeti Fund

The keeping of beehives helps to maintain riparian zones, natural springs, and remnant forest and bush areas as these are the the optimal habitat for the bees. The presence of the hives also prevents timber and firewood harvesting in those areas, and discourages elephants (they don’t like bees!) from trampling the nearby farmland and destroying the crops.

In 2002, the Grumeti Community and Wildlife Conservation Fund, a not-for-profit organisation, was granted the right to manage and conserve 350,000 acres, for the benefit of Tanzania, Africa and the world. Four years later, Singita took over the management of the property, at the request of the concessionaire and began the task of generating, via low impact tourism, the funds necessary to ensure the long-term sustainability of the reserve through conservation and community partnerships.

 If you would like more information, please contact Pam Richardson, Singita’s Group HR and Community Development Manager.

Read More


Field Guide Favourites: Best of 2013

January 28, 2014 - Africa,Conservation,Environment,Experience,Safari,Wildlife

The African continent is captivating for many reasons; exotic landscapes, diverse cultures and astounding natural beauty among them. A rich and varied wildlife population is no doubt the highlight for many visitors to Africa, with many unique and mysterious species inhabiting our jungles and grasslands. It is critical that the bio-diversity of this land is protected and conserved, which is why Singita’s core vision is to preserve large tracts of wilderness in Africa for future generations with hands-on conservation teams on each property.

The experienced and highly-skilled Singita field guides play a critical role in this process by educating guests about the importance of conservation and instilling in them a deep sense of appreciation for our natural environment. Their beautiful photos from twice-daily game drives have become an extremely popular feature of the social media accounts and are an inspiration to all members of the Singita family. Here, they have selected their favourites from 2013 for you to enjoy:

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

Best wildlife photos of 2013 | Singita

bestof2013new_11

Catch up on our monthly Wildlife Reports and like our Facebook page for first-hand ranger reports straight from the bushveld.

Read More


Wildlife Census 2013 in Tanzania

December 27, 2013 - Conservation,Conservation,Did You Know?,Environment,Safari,Singita Grumeti,Sustainable Conservation,Wildlife

Wildlife Census 2013 | Singita

Conservation has always been pivotal to Singita’s existence, as it lives hand-in-hand with Singita’s other two operating principles; ecotourism and community development. We believe it’s the responsible way to maintain and extend the sustainability of the reserves under our care. As we reflect on the successes of the past year, it seems fitting to report on the positive findings of a recent census that took place at Singita Grumeti earlier in 2013.

Wildlife Census 2013 | Singita

The hands-on conservation teams on each property are committed to protecting, maintaining and enhancing the land and its fauna and flora. For example, Singita Grumeti has as one of its goals the rehabilitation of the wildlife populations of Grumeti and Ikorongo Game Reserves and associated wildlife management areas in the Serengeti, Tanzania. Over the last eight years, Singita Grumeti has made a significant investment into the protection of wildlife in the area as well as the infrastructure required to support ecotourism. The effectiveness of these inputs and the management activities that result need to be monitored for appropriate outcomes, the most logical of which is the change in status of the resident herbivores.

Wildlife Census 2013 | Singita

Having an understanding of the number of animals, their distribution and numerical trends forms one of the most basic sets of information necessary for the informed management of a wildlife operation. A starting point is a regular and accurate assessment of population size of possibly all, but certainly the ecologically and economically most important species.

Wildlife Census 2013 | Singita

A census was therefore undertaken by way of an aerial survey between the 23rd of August and the 3rd of September 2013 in the Ikorongo-Grumeti Reserves complex. This survey was the tenth undertaken over a period of 11 years, under particularly favourable counting conditions and with a very experienced team of enumerators.

Wildlife Census 2013 | Singita

At the initiation of this project, the Grumeti Fund management team’s primary purpose was to facilitate the recovery of the resident large herbivore populations in this part of the Serengeti ecosystem. This was seen as an important step in the rehabilitation of this particular region, protecting the migratory herds but also helping to fully restore the tourism potential of the area.

Wildlife Census 2013 | Singita

Notable statistics from the census include the slowing population increase of buffalo (although this species has shown a six fold increase in estimated size over the last 10 years) and this year showing the highest number of elephant in the area since inception. The population estimate for elephant has varied substantially over the last eight years, probably as a result of the animals moving in and out in response to resource availability. Overall, the population showing a gradual increase of 5% per annum over the last 10 years. In addition, the topi, a local migrant antelope, would appear to have stabilised at around 15 000 animals. Fluctuations are likely due both to forage conditions as well as predation.

census_7

Click the image below to see the full-size infographic depicting population growth until 2011:

Wildlife Census 2013 | Singita

Singita Grumeti also has a highly successful Anti-Poaching Unit comprising 120 game scouts (most of the ex-poachers) who work together with the Wildlife Division to eradicated illegal hunting within the concession. Visit our Conservation page to learn more about how Singita manages the half a million acres of pristine African wilderness that it is proud guardian of.

Read More


Sign up to receive the Singita newsletter

×