Category Archives: Did You Know?

Neighbour Outreach Programme at Singita Pamushana Lodge

March 13, 2015 - Community Development,Did You Know?,Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve,Singita Pamushana Lodge

As part of its ongoing commitment to the local community, Singita Pamushana Lodge provides support across a broad spectrum of projects through the Malilangwe Trust, its non-profit development and conservation partner.

Neighbour Outreach Programme | Singita Pamushana Lodge

The Neighbour Outreach Programme (NOP) includes a Supplementary Feeding Programme for children up to school age, support for local primary schools and cultural projects which include the fostering of traditional tribal dance at a young age.

Neighbour Outreach Programme | Singita Pamushana Lodge

The Supplementary Feeding Programme began in February 2003 when, after two years of severe drought, Singita responded to the government’s call for assistance. “At that time, many local children were severely malnourished,” says Shepherd Mawire, NOP Project Co-ordinator. “But the programme has since provided additional food and nourishment to thousands of children in the local communities.”

Neighbour Outreach Programme | Singita Pamushana Lodge

Every day 19 000 children (mostly aged 5 years and younger) are provided with a nutrient rich soya-corn blend. The ingredients are delivered to 436 feeding points and 11 primary schools which are managed by volunteers appointed by the local communities to oversee this core village activity.

Neighbour Outreach Programme | Singita Pamushana Lodge

The programme not only provides much needed nutrition, but also helps the children realise their educational and developmental potential by ensuring that hunger does not get in the way of their ability to concentrate and learn during the school day.

Neighbour Outreach Programme | Singita Pamushana Lodge

The NOP also supports the local primary schools in the form of much-needed extra stationery and books while working with the community on other projects agreed with them. A pilot scheme that will provide honey from bee-hives has been launched and there are five kitchen garden irrigation schemes growing nutritious, fresh vegetables which are otherwise in short supply.

One of the NOP’s most important cultural initiatives is in providing musical instruments, costumes and regalia for the primary school children who compete in the national tribal dance competitions held annually in August.

Sarah Madden | Singita Pamushana Lodge

Sarah Madden asked more about the motives behind the programme – “We want the children to learn about their Shangaan cultural roots,” says Shepherd. “We want the cultural soul to survive into the next generation and to do that we need to start at the grass-roots primary school level. We want the children to know that despite our modern technological world, this was how it was done in the past. It’s all part of our mission to empower and support the local community.”

WATCH THE VIDEO

Richard and Sarah Madden are freelance travel writers and filmmakers. Richard has written for the Daily Telegraph (UK) for more then 20 years and met Sarah while presenting documentaries for the Discovery Channel which were produced by Sarah. Prior to working with Singita, the couple spent two years in Africa writing and filming the multi-media Bush Telegraph column for the Daily Telegraph. The column includes reports on safaris, wildlife conservation and community stories from all over southern and eastern Africa.

You can read their previous report from Singita Malilangwe here.

This film was shot on a Leica V-Lux (www.leica-camera.com)

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Fascinating Flora: The Leadwood Tree

February 25, 2015 - Did You Know?,Environment,Kruger National Park,Singita Lebombo Lodge,Singita Sweni Lodge

There is a classic, if slightly ominous, African image with which you’re probably familiar; it’s the scene of a colony of vultures huddled on the branches of a leafless leadwood tree, black rain clouds looming overhead. It is, in fact, a fairly common sight at Singita’s South African properties (albeit with more blue sky!), where the bush is studded with tall leadwoods that live up to their scientific name; combretum imberbe, meaning “hairless climber”.

Leaded trees at Singita Kruger National Park

The leadwood is one of the largest trees in Africa, and is so called because of the wood which is extremely dense and heavy. As such, it is impermeable to termites and is one of the only wood species that sinks when thrown into water. It’s hardiness also explains why, up to 80 years after a leadwood tree has died, its imposing skeleton will remain intact, and why it used to be the material of choice for railway sleepers. The species is protected in South Africa, although fallen branches and those left behind by marauding elephants are allowed to be used for furniture or ornamental work.

Leaded trees at Singita Kruger National Park

Although slow-growing, they can live to be thousands of years old and flourish in alluvial soil along river beds, like the Sweni and N’wanetsi Rivers that run through Singita Kruger National Park. The leaves are popular with herbivores and you will regularly see elephant, giraffe, kudu and impala munching on them during a game drive.

Leopard in a leadwood tree | All Dolled Up

Singita’s 33,000-acre private concession in the Kruger National Park is home to two of our lodges; Singita Lebombo Lodge and Singita Sweni Lodge. This area is especially well-known for the remarkable concentration of the ‘Big 5’ and four particularly formidable prides of lions. Discover more on our website.

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Experience the Serengeti: Setting up Singita Explore

February 19, 2015 - Did You Know?,Experience,Lodges and Camps,Safari,Singita Explore,Singita Grumeti

“Endless” is a word that is often used to describe the Serengeti. The apparent infinity of its grassy plains, acacia woodlands and riverine forests is a stunning sight, the memory of which never leaves those who have seen it in person. These boundless landscapes are the first thing to greet guests every morning at Singita Explore, as the rising sun casts light on 350,000 acres of untouched wilderness.

Singita Explore, Serengeti, Tanzania

Each camp is strategically located and moved throughout the year in order to give guests the best opportunity of experiencing this vast and unique ecosystem. Visitors to the region are treated to unrivalled sightings of high concentrations of game at any time of year, including the renowned annual wildebeest migration which passes right through the concession.

Singita Explore, Serengeti, Tanzania

This delightful video gives the viewer an authentic sense of the experience, and takes you behind the scenes to see how the camp at Singita Explore comes to life, narrated by some of the special people who make it all happen:

Singita Explore is a private use camp in northern Tanzania. It is particularly appealing to those in search of an opportunity to connect up-close with the earth and wildlife in a way they have never done before. With a private guide, chef, camp host and camp staff, activities can be arranged on a whim, game drives may be as long or as short as you choose and intimate experiences await. Please explore our website or contact our Reservations team to find out more.

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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.

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Visual Storytelling: Community Development on Film

November 26, 2014 - Community Development,Did You Know?,Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve,Singita Pamushana Lodge,Sustainable Conservation

Singita - Place of Miracles

Singita truly is a “place of miracles”, with incredible wildlife, elegant design, spectacular food and very special people. It isn’t just about the experience at the lodges however; miracles also happen in the communities around them and in the lives of those living in each concession. The upliftment of these local communities is as important to the success of Singita as the wildlife conservation that drives the core vision to preserve and protect large tracts of wilderness in Africa for future generations.

The highlights of these development programmes were brought to life recently in a series of videos produced by Ginkgo Agency, one of our creative partners. These beautiful and captivating narratives (shown below) perfectly captured the spirit of each project while being informative and interesting to watch.

ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTRE

GROWING TO READ PROGRAMME

SINGITA SCHOOL OF COOKING

For our final video in the series, we approached conservationist and cinematographer Kim Wolhuter, when he was based in the Malilangwe Reserve. Shot in his signature documentary style, this short film follows the story of a young schoolgirl who benefits from the Child Supplementary Feeding Programme at Singita Pamushana. This initiative, facilitated through Singita’s development and conservation partner in Zimbabwe, The Malilangwe Trust, provides additional food and nourishment to 19 000 children in the local communities.

CHILD SUPPLEMENTARY FEEDING PROGRAMME

Our Vimeo channel showcases not only this series but also our #SingitaStories, which highlight some of our exceptional team members, and beautiful snapshots of our lodges. You can find out more about the Malilangwe Child Supplementary Feeding Scheme and other community development projects at Singita on our website.

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Community Projects: Early Childhood Development

November 20, 2014 - Community Development,Did You Know?,People of Singita,Sabi Sand,Singita Boulders Lodge,Singita Ebony Lodge

Community Development: READ programme | Singita Sabi Sand

Community Development: READ programme | Singita Sabi Sand

Modern conservation requires a keen focus on keeping tourism, the community and conservation in a constructive and positively enhancing balance. The health and survival of each of these aspects is crucial to the survival of the whole. This complementary approach is central to Singita’s driving philosophy, in which it is imperative that we assist communities to thrive, both economically and socially.

Community Development: READ programme | Singita Sabi Sand

Community Development: READ programme | Singita Sabi Sand

One such example of this commitment to the empowerment of local communities can be seen in action at Singita Sabi Sand, where an early childhood development programme is in place. Growing to Read ensures that 10 pre-schools in local villages are provided with professional training and guidance by a dedicated trainer from The READ Educational Trust, a long-standing, non-profit organisation and recognised child development leader.

Community Development: READ programme | Singita Sabi Sand

Community Development: READ programme | Singita Sabi Sand

The teachers from these pre-schools learn the most efficient and effective ways of developing the cognitive, physical and social skills of the young children in their care. Carefully chosen educational toys and books are also supplied to the pre-schools, along with stationary “tool-kits”. Teachers are thereby further enabled to implement the modern and effective methodologies that are shared with them.

Community Development: READ programme | Singita Sabi Sand

Community Development: READ programme | Singita Sabi Sand

Children who develop in structured and stimulating environments such as these are better able to form the foundation they need to succeed in their later schooling, and in life. Central to the programme is the importance of literacy, and the need for teachers to nurture and develop these skills in their young charges. In addition, Teach with Africa, a USA-based organisation, sends a team of experienced lecturers to work closely with these schools on an annual basis, in support of the overall Growing to Read programme.

Community Development: READ programme | Singita Sabi Sand

Community Development: READ programme | Singita Sabi Sand

The success of this project prompted the Community Development team to partner with Singita Kruger National Park, where the children of the Welverdiend and Hluvukani staff villages are now also involved.  This means that 1700 young learners are now benefitting from the programme and Singita’s commitment to providing continuing support to these pre-schools.

Mandla Mathonsi, Community Development Officer

Mandla Mathonsi, Community Development Officer

WANT TO HELP?
The teaching and facilities in the local pre-primary and primary schools benefit greatly from support and enhancement, and any contributions will be put to sound use. For more information about becoming a funding partner to the Singita Community Development Trust, please contact HR and Community Development Manager, Pam Richardson, at +27 21 683 3424 or pam.r@singita.com.

You can find out more about Singita’s community development projects on our website.

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Fascinating Flora: The Sickle Bush

October 28, 2014 - Did You Know?,Environment,Kruger National Park

Sickle Bush | Singita

The sickle bush (dichrostachys cinerea)

Sickle Bush | Singita

Singita Kruger National Park, South Africa

The sickle bush (dichrostachys cinerea) is one of the many splashes of colour that our field guides associate with this time of year, as it generally flowers from October to February. It goes by many names; bell mimosa, Chinese lantern tree, Kalahari Christmas tree and, perhaps most curiously, ‘acacia puncture tyre’. While not in the acacia family at all, it happens to have extremely hard spines capable of puncturing a tyre. The spines are modified stems rather than modified leaves (which you would find in an acacia) and this makes them even harder to break.

Sickle Bush | Singita

Singita Kruger National Park, South Africa

The name “sickle bush” stems from the seedpods which are packed close together and each single pod curves in the shape of a sickle. It is a tree that has a preference for brackish soils, and is a highly aggressive encroachment species. In Cuba, where it is known as ‘Marabou weed’, it has become a serious invasive species problem, occupying close to five million acres of agricultural land. It can, if not managed correctly, grow to the point of impenetrable thickets.

Sickle Bush | Singita

Singita Sweni Lodge, Singita Kruger National Park, South Africa

The sickle bush is one of the most widely used medicinal trees throughout Africa. Abdominal pains, eye ailments and snake bites can be treated using parts of a sickle bush. In fact, some of our guides have first-hand knowledge of this powerful natural anaesthetic! One of them reported chewing the leaves to help kill the pain of a toothache, for which it worked brilliantly. The only problem? Within minutes your tongue turns numb as well and then you can’t talk – not ideal for narrating a game drive!

Follow our monthly Wildlife Reports to learn more about the beautiful flora and fauna to be found at our 12 lodges and camps.

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The Story of Eksoni Ndlovu

October 14, 2014 - Did You Know?,Experience,Kruger National Park,People of Singita,Wildlife

eksoni_5

eksoni_3

Like many of the trackers who work at Singita, Eksoni Ndlovu grew up in a small rural community near the Kruger National Park. He learned the basics of tracking and animal interaction as a young man, while tending his family’s cattle and keeping them safe from wild animals. He has since spent more than 23 years honing his craft as an expert tracker and is respected the world over for his skill and perseverance.

eksoni_4

eksoni_9

“Tracking is an art, not everyone can do it. You need to be patient and you need to be persistent… A good tracker needs to think like an animal. They need to listen, keep quiet and always be aware.”

eksoni_10

eksoni_11

Eksoni’s passion for wildlife conservation is apparent to all those around him. He spends a considerable amount of time passing on his knowledge and experience to apprentice bush rangers so they too can help to preserve this beautiful wilderness. “I’m giving my skills to the community because I want them to learn and follow in my footsteps”.

eksoni_1

eksoni_12

Guests also play an important role in protecting, maintaining and enhancing the land. Enos, one of the guides, observes: “We are giving back to conservation by educating our guests about the animals and how we take care of them for future generations.” Singita not only preserves large tracts of land but also works to ensure that people like Eksoni pass on their knowledge to others and in so doing preserve this ancient skill.

eksoni_7

Watch this short video to learn more about Eksoni’s story:

Find out more about Singita’s conservation efforts on our website. You can also share this and other #singitastories via our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

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Creatures Great & Small: The Giant Snail

September 09, 2014 - Did You Know?,Experience,Sabi Sand,Safari,Wildlife

Giant snail

With the green vegetation sprouting along the roadsides and over the grasslands, creatures from large to small are on the move. A few days ago, and within minutes of leaving the lodge, we noticed movement on the road. A giant African land snail glistened in the morning light.

Like almost all pulmonate gastropods, these snails are hermaphrodites, having male and female sex organs. Although giant African land snails primarily mate with one another, in more isolated regions they are capable of reproducing on their own. Giant African land snails lay around six clutches of eggs every year, laying an average of 200 eggs per clutch – that amounts to about 1 200 eggs per year! What is really incredible is that around 90% of snail hatchings survive.

Giant African land snails are active during the night and spend the daytime hours safely buried underground. They reach their adult size by the time they are six months old and although their growth rate slows at this point, they never stop growing. Most reach between five and six years of age but some individuals have been known to be more than ten years old. The giant African land snail seals itself inside its shell to retain water. They do this about three times a year, depending on the areas which they inhabit. During periods of extreme drought, they practice aestivation which is a type of ‘summer sleep’.

Singita Sabi Sand, South Africa

Driving along looking in various directions for a twitch of an ear or a flicking tail, your eyes scan through the bush up and down, left and right. Often when looking for something large and obvious you miss the smaller treasures, without even realising it.

This description of an encounter with a giant snail by Ross Couper first appeared in the November 2013 Wildlife Report from Singita Sabi Sand. The monthly ranger diaries are written by the field guides themselves and contain plenty of delightful stories and stunning photographs from the bush. You can catch up on the Wildlife Reports from all the Singita lodges and camps here.

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What to Pack: Singita Pamushana Lodge

September 02, 2014 - Did You Know?,Experience,General,Lodges and Camps,Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve

Singita Pamushana Lodge, Malilangwe, Zimbabwe

Packing for a safari in the African bush can be a little bit daunting for the uninitiated. What shoes do I bring? Are shorts appropriate? Do I need a long-sleeved shirt? Does it get cold enough for a jacket? Should I bring my own binoculars? We’ve answered these and many other questions in the “Tips for Travellers” section for each lodge but we thought a quick refresher might be in order.

Singita Pamushana Lodge, Malilangwe, Zimbabwe

The gear and clothing required for each lodge is relatively similar, but this time we’ll focus on Singita Pamushana Lodge, situated in the beautiful and mostly untouched Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve in Zimbabwe. The area is home to hundreds of baobab trees and an unrivalled gathering of birds with more than 500 species, including many raptors. During a stay at Singita Pamushana Lodge, you are likely to spot a great variety of wildlife, including species such as black rhino, white rhino, Lichtenstein hartebeest, sable, nyala, klipspringer, cheetah, wild dog, lion and leopard.

Singita's essential safari gear

Singita's essential safari gear

CLOTHING
Lodge Manager, Emily Capon, says that layers are the most important thing to consider when packing for the bush. In summer (October to April), the weather is warm during the day and cooler in the morning and evenings. She recommends casual summer clothes (shorts and cool shirts) and a warm sweater for the cooler times of day. During the fall and winter (May to September), the temperature during the day is usually fairly mild, with plenty of sunshine, but colder in the mornings and evenings. In these cooler months, casual light clothing and a very warm parka or jacket is recommended for the extremely chilly mornings and nights. It is suggested that you stick to a tonal, neutral colour palette (khaki, beige, light brown) and avoid dark colours as they absorb heat, and bright colours as they can attract bugs.

Fishing at Singita Pamushana lodge in Zimbabwe

Other essential items of clothing include comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots for walks; sandals to wear around the lodge, a sturdy cap or sun hat, and a swimming costume or bathing suit so that you can enjoy the stunning infinity pool that overlooks the dam. Please note that in the event of rain during a game drive, waterproof ponchos will be provided for your comfort.

The pool at Singita Pamushana Lodge, Zimbabwe

ACCESSORIES & EQUIPMENT
It’s a good idea to pack your favourite sun block, lip balm and mosquito repellent, as although all of these items are provided at the lodges, you might want to bring along your preferred brand. Sunglasses are also essential, along with an extra pair of correction glasses (if required), contact lens solution, an extra set of contact lenses (if required) as well as a sufficient supply of any prescription medication.

You’ll no doubt want to capture those precious memories with your camera and/or video camera, and don’t forget spare memory cards, your tripod and lenses, and any charging equipment (220V although we do have international adapters in all the rooms). The lodge does have a number of pairs of binoculars that guests are welcome to use on game drives or when bird-watching from the lodge. Your own pair of compact, high quality binoculars will greatly enhance your game-spotting ability however, and offer the best possible close-up of the local wildlife.

Game drives at Singita Pamushana Lodge, Zimbabwe

Emily Capon has worked at Singita for just over five years. She says: “Zimbabwe is home for me, I grew up here and there are so many reasons to love it! The most common comment from guests is about how friendly all the people are and that is definitely true. I love Singita Pamushana Lodge as it is so different to anything else and so vibrant and happy!” You can get in touch with our reservations team to find out more.

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