Category Archives: Singita Pamushana Lodge

Rhino Relocation at Singita Pamushana

July 03, 2015 - Conservation,Conservation,Lodges and Camps,Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve,Singita Pamushana Lodge,Sustainable Conservation

In an age where the destruction of pristine wilderness continues to accelerate, Singita is making a profound difference in many parts of Africa. Orchestrating an interdependent relationship between communities, wildlife and tourism that ensures true sustainability, Singita is blazing a trail which is seldom achieved on this scale anywhere else on the continent.

Black rhino - Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve

One recent example of this ongoing effort took place last week, when eight, critically endangered black rhinos were safely relocated by the Malilangwe Trust, Singita’s conservation partner in Zimbabwe. The black rhinos were sent from the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve to the Moremi Game Reserve in Botswana to help rebuild the local population and battle the devastating effects of poaching.

Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve

Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve

The rhinos were bred from a group that was released onto the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve as part of a range expansion programme in 1998. After originally being relocated from South Africa, their numbers had grown rapidly in the Reserve, which is also the home of Singita Pamushana Lodge. A decision was made to relocate a small group of animals in order to reduce competition for space and food, while helping to establish a new population north of the border.

Black rhino - Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve

Following a call from the Zimbabwean government to donate 10 black rhinos to Moremi in late 2014, ecologists determined that the habitat in Botswana was both suitable and adequately protected. So on June 14 this year, the rhinos were successfully moved to their new home with the assistance of the Botswana Defense Force.

Singita Pamushana Lodge, Zimbabwe

Singita Pamushana Lodge, Zimbabwe

Singita’s 100-year purpose – to protect and preserve large tracts of wilderness for future generations – is supported by the Trust, whose central aim is to promote the conservation of rare species, including black rhino, and to add value to its neighbouring communities. The Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, home to an unrivaled gathering of birds with more than 400 species, including many raptors, remains virtually untouched by humankind. Through eco-tourism, Singita Pamushana Lodge helps in fostering the sustainability of the wildlife and broader ecology, while enabling guests to share the magic of the lodge and the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve.

Black rhino - Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve

Focused on eco-conscious hospitality, sustainable conservation and evolving local communities, Singita’s vision is to share a unique part of the world while respecting the natural environment and challenging today’s notion of luxury. Find out more about this commitment to responsible tourism on our website or visit the Conservation category on our blog.

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Conservation & Community: How Tourism Helps

June 24, 2015 - Community Development,Conservation,Did You Know?,Environment,Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve,Singita Pamushana Lodge,Sustainable Conservation

For more than two decades, Singita has been a “place of miracles”, offering guests a unique and extraordinary safari experience. Our 12 lodges and camps have been the recipient of numerous awards and the number of guests who return year after year speaks for itself. And while we are extremely proud of this, Singita’s enduring purpose, which is to preserve and protect the miraculous places of which we are custodians, remains our primary focus. Our concessions, reserves, and properties represent some of the most pristine wilderness areas on the continent and we are dedicated to maintaining these incredible pieces of earth for future generations. As well as our commitment to environmentally conscious hospitality, our core vision supports sustainable conservation and the empowerment of local communities.

Malilangwe Reserve, Zimbabwe

Malilangwe Reserve, Zimbabwe

Dr Bruce Clegg, Resident Ecologist at the Malilangwe Trust, Singita’s conservation partner in Zimbabwe, explains the extent to which tourism contributes to wildlife conservation and rural community development in Africa:

Dr Bruce Clegg

Dr Bruce Clegg

“Travel and tourism contributes only 3.6% of the total GDP in Africa, the majority of which is generated from just a handful of countries on the continent. Ecotourism accounts for only a fraction of this relatively small figure, putting wildlife conservation and development of rural communities at a considerable disadvantage.

Wildlife conservation at Singita

Tourism is a difficult business. Africa only attracts 5% of global travellers. The market is very competitive, overhead costs high and profit margins low. In addition the industry is sensitive to shocks caused by political instability, disease outbreaks, natural disasters etc. and it takes many years to develop a credible reputation. This means that little extra money is available for large-scale conservation efforts or community development. Strong competition between companies for bookings necessitates promotion of the charismatic animal species that underpin the industry (most notably lions and the other members of the Big Five) and more urgent conservation needs such as protection of critically endangered, but less captivating plants and animals are overlooked. For these reasons the hope placed in ecotourism as a solution to Africa’s poverty and conservation problems has not been fulfilled.

Singita Pamushana Lodge, Zimbabwe

Child Supplementary Feeding Programme

However, a small light is beginning to shine at the end of the tunnel. A few progressive organisations have recognised these failings and instead of continuing to base their activities on wishful thinking have changed their approach and setup partnerships between their ecotourism ventures and charitable NGOs or generous philanthropists. These partnerships appear to work better. Ecotourism provides environmentally sensitive employment for locals thereby promoting community development, and the charitable partners provide the extra funds required to conduct meaningful conservation projects and additional community upliftment.

Singita Pamushana Lodge, Zimbabwe

Singita Pamushana

Singita has taken this approach a step further and also included professional conservation and community development organisations in their partnerships to provide the technical input and experience required to run truly meaningful projects. This has the added advantage of giving the donors confidence that their funds will pay for best practice, and visiting tourists the assurance that their dollars will actually make a difference. A three-way partnership of this nature is very promising and may well be the industry standard of the future. If this approach becomes widely adopted, ecotourism’s role in conservation and community development may at long last reach its full potential.”

Wildlife conservation at Singita

Singita is the trusted guardian of a million acres of pristine land in Africa and responsible for many successful community development projects, making a tangible difference in the lives of the people living and working in and around our lodges. Please visit our website to find out more about the wonderful work of our conservation and community upliftment teams.

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Rock Art at Singita Pamushana

May 11, 2015 - Conservation,Conservation,Did You Know?,History,Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve,Singita Pamushana Lodge

The forests and sandstone kopjes surrounding Singita Pamushana Lodge are home to more than 80 known rock art sites with more almost certainly yet to be discovered. These range from single figures to large ‘galleries’ containing multiple paintings, sometimes from different time periods.

Rock art at Singita Pamushana Lodge, Zimbabwe

Carbon dating from pieces of charcoal found in sediments at two of the sites suggest that the paintings range from 700 to 2,000 years-old and fall into three main traditions. The oldest are those painted by San Bushmen hunter gatherers who used porcupine quills and bird feathers as brushes, and ochre mixed with blood and dyes from tree-bark as paint.

Rock art at Singita Pamushana Lodge, Zimbabwe

The more geometric spot paintings found in the reserve were painted by Khoi San herders, while finger-paintings, often white in colour, were made by the Bantu-speaking people using ground egg shells as paint.

Rock art at Singita Pamushana Lodge, Zimbabwe

Many of the earliest paintings are figurative and illustrate everyday scenes from the lives of the hunter gatherers who made them. These include hunting scenes and animals like elephant, rhino, zebra and many other creatures of the bush including, most significantly, eland which were sacred to the San and represented rain and fertility.

Rock art at Singita Pamushana Lodge, Zimbabwe

Many rock art experts now believe, however, that the original interpretations of these paintings by the early colonialists were too simplistic. Scenes which looked easy to interpret missed complex underlying meanings, including metaphors for aspects of the San’s strong spiritual traditions that included trance, rain and initiation dances among other rituals. Many scenes on closer inspection show creatures that are half-animal and half-human, for example, and probably depict shamans in a trance state.

Rock art at Singita Pamushana Lodge, Zimbabwe

The study of rock art is open to interpretation and the full meanings of these paintings will probably never be known for sure. “The San Bushmen were intensely spiritual people,” says Dr. Bruce Clegg, Resident Ecologist at the Malilangwe Trust. “At the Lisililija Spring site, for example, on one panel there’s a row of people in a trance dance which is connected by a spiritual line to a rainfall event pouring down on a female figure which is a sign of fertility in San belief. It’s one big celebration connecting human people to their spiritual counterparts.”

WATCH THE VIDEO:

The San Bushmen are the original hunter-gatherers and one of the earth’s oldest continuous cultures. Guests at Singita Pamushana Lodge can take an educational tour of the best rock art sites in the reserve, including those shown in the accompanying film, and learn about their remarkable way of life.

Rock art at Singita Pamushana Lodge, Zimbabwe

Singita Pamushana Lodge, Zimbabwe

Richard and Sarah Madden are freelance travel writers and filmmakers currently based at in the Malilangwe Reserve at Singita Pamushana Lodge in Zimbabwe. Their series of short films from the region is entitled “Bush Tales” and explores Singita’s community development, ecotourism and conservation work in Southern Africa. Richard and Sarah met while producing documentaries for the Discovery Channel and are now freelance and, prior to working with Singita, spent two years in Africa writing and filming the multi-media Bush Telegraph column for the Daily Telegraph.

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Bringing Shangaan Culture to Life at the Kambako Living Museum

March 19, 2015 - Community Development,Experience,Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve,Singita Pamushana Lodge

Richard and Sarah Madden are freelance travel writers and filmmakers currently documenting life in and around Singita Pamushana Lodge in Zimbabwe. Their series of short films from the region is entitled “Bush Tales” and explores Singita’s community development, ecotourism and conservation work in Southern Africa. In this, their latest report, they paid a visit to a unique and culturally significant community project near the lodge.

Kambako Cultural Village, Zimbabwe | Singita Pamushana Lodge

Sarah Madden has a lesson in Shangaan culture

Kambako is the local Shangaan word for ‘Old Bull Elephant’ and is the name chosen by Julius Matshuve for the Living Museum of Bushcraft he founded in 2011.

“Kambako is like a wise, old man who is taking us in the right direction,” says Julius. “The older generation who know the old ways will soon be gone and the aim of the Living Museum is to teach their skills and knowledge to the younger generation before they are lost forever.”

Kambako is located just outside the Malilangwe Reserve surrounding Singita Pamushana and has become a very popular excursion for guests at the lodge. The local Shangaan community are directly descended from the Zulu tribes that split away from Shaka Zulu at the beginning of the 19th Century and came to settle in this area of what is now Zimbabwe.

Kambako Cultural Village, Zimbabwe | Singita Pamushana Lodge

In the recent past, the Shangaan people were hunter gatherers and their traditional lifestyle is recreated through demonstrations of practical skills which visitors can see in action and try them out for themselves. These include making fire from friction, identifying tubers, water divining, bow and arrow making and shooting, snares for trapping small game, smelting and forging iron, basketry, food production and cooking.

Kambako Cultural Village, Zimbabwe | Singita Pamushana Lodge

An intimate knowledge of the natural resources available and an in-depth understanding of animal behaviour is vital for success as a hunter-gatherer and as the Shangaan made the transition to their current agro-pastoral lifestyle, new skills also became necessary such as the construction and use of a smelter and forge.

Kambako Cultural Village, Zimbabwe | Singita Pamushana Lodge

The adaptability and ingenuity of the human spirit is emphasised throughout the visit and the pros and cons of the Shangaan way of life are discussed in relation to a modern first world existence. “Today’s young generation have contact with many foreign cultures and technology is in danger of taking over their lives,” says Julius. “When I was young we could only talk to an older man kneeling down and we were not allowed to talk during meals.

Kambako Cultural Village, Zimbabwe | Singita Pamushana Lodge

“While we would not want to go back to that, it is so important that the old skills are not lost forever. We want to teach the young people how to survive even if there are no shops and no technology. If you are lost in the forest, the young need to know how to survive and make life out of natural resources.”

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The Kambako Living Museum is a 45-minute game drive from Singita Pamushana Lodge. Guests can tour the village as well as undertake any number of enriching activities in the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve. These include visits to significant San Bushmen rock art sites, game fishing in the dam, a romantic sundowner cruise and hitting the trails on a mountain bike. Visit our website to find out more about Singita Pamushana Lodge.

You can see Richard and Sarah’s other “Bush Tales” reports here.

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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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Stargazing on Safari

December 05, 2014 - Experience,Singita Pamushana Lodge

Singia Pamushana Lodge in Zimbabwe

Pumbaa: Hey, Timon, ever wonder what those sparkly dots are up there?
Timon: Pumbaa, I don’t wonder; I know.
Pumbaa: Oh. What are they?
Timon: They’re fireflies. Fireflies that, uh… got stuck up on that big bluish-black thing.
Pumbaa: Oh, gee. I always thought they were balls of gas burning billions of miles away.

Singia Pamushana Lodge in Zimbabwe

There’s only one guaranteed sighting we can give you on safari, and that’s to lie back in your seat, in the pitch black darkness of a remote African wilderness, and look to the heavens – just as Pumbaa and Timon did in The Lion King.

Stargazing Safari at Singita Pamushana Lodge

On the way back from an evening game drive your guide might ask you to pause for a few moments and quietly absorb the humbling enormity of our night skies. And that’s when the magic starts to happen… As soon as everyone is silent you’ll hear the nocturnal sounds of the wild – the rolling thunder of a lion’s roar, a choir of frogs or the whistling whisper of a nightjar.

Stargazing Safari at Singita Pamushana Lodge

Then your guide, armed with a laser pointer, will take you on an astral journey from one end of the solar system to the other. With no air or light pollution you’ll see stars and planets you’ve never witnessed before with the naked eye. You might be told mythological stories of Orion The Hunter in his eternal pursuit of Scorpio, or given the rather imaginative descriptions ancient astronomers chose for various constellations.

Stargazing Safari at Singita Pamushana Lodge

You’ll lose yourself in the Milky Way, our galaxy which is essentially a floating island of stars in the vast ocean of the universe. You’ll witness where stars are born in nebulas, spin with asteroids and fly on the coattails of comets. You’ll wish upon a shooting star and let the moment live with you forever.

Field Guide at Singita Pamushana Lodge, Jenny Hishin, contributed to this post with her words and the stunning time-lapse photos of the stars. Jenny also writes the monthly Wildlife Reports from the region which document interesting animal sightings and changes in the natural environment. Find out more about Singita Pamushana Lodge and all the activities available at the lodge here.

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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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Cocktail Recipe: Wild Hibiscus Spritzer

November 05, 2014 - Cuisine,Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve,Singita Pamushana Lodge

Singita Pamushana Lodge, Zimbabwe

A tall, refreshing drink on a hot summer’s afternoon as you overlook the Malilangwe Dam is just the ticket after a long journey. Luckily for guests arriving at Singita Pamushana Lodge in Zimbabwe, that’s exactly what they get served when they first step onto the magnificent pool deck. The Wild Hibiscus Spritzer is a non-alcoholic cocktail that contains an exotic flower grown exclusively in Australia, whose petals slowly unfurl in the bottom of the glass as you drink it. It’s an unusual and beautiful detail that perfectly complements the stunning location of the lodge, set amongst 130 000 acres of wilderness.

Wild Hibiscus Spritzer

To recreate this drink at home, simply place one flower along with a dash of the syrup in the bottom of a glass and top with equal quantities of soda water and sparkling apple juice. The syrup gives the drink a delicate blush that creeps up the glass – it’s almost too beautiful to drink!

It makes an especially eye-catching Christmas cocktail and would look beautiful served at any festive function. Simply replace the soda water and apple juice with champagne and you have the perfect party tipple.

Singita Pamushana Lodge in Zimbabwe

You can buy Wild Hibiscus flowers in syrup from their website for delivery worldwide or visit one of their stockists.

Singita Pamushana Lodge is the ecotourism arm of the Malilangwe Trust in Gonarezhou National Park in southeastern Zimbabwe. Its role is to help foster the sustainability of the wildlife and broader ecology, while enabling guests to share the magic of the lodge and the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve. Learn more about the Trust and our conservation efforts in the area on our website.

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Wonderful Wildlife Videos with James Suter

August 26, 2014 - Experience,Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve,Singita Explore,Singita Faru Faru Lodge,Singita Grumeti,Singita Pamushana Lodge,Wildlife

If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you will no doubt have seen field guide James Suter’s incredible series of reports from our twelve lodges and camps in Africa. His stories from the bush were accompanied by spectacular photographs and expert descriptions of the animals and landscapes that he saw. Highlights included a run-in with a black rhino, getting reacquainted with an old friend, a mother cheetah defending her cubs and some stunning shots of the iconic baobab trees of southern Zimbabwe.

These special moments in the wilderness have now been brought to life in a series of videos from his year-long journey through each of Singita’s private reserves and concessions. We hope you enjoy these and encourage you to share them with others who might enjoy a taste of our Africa:

WALKING WITH ELEPHANTS AT SINGITA PAMUSHANA LODGE, ZIMBABWE

A CHEETAH FAMILY AT SINGITA PAMUSHANA LODGE, ZIMBABWE

ELEPHANT HERD AT SINGITA FARU FARU LODGE, TANZANIA

MAGNIFICENT PLAINS GAME AT SINGITA GRUMETI, TANZANIA

MIGRATING WILDEBEEST AT SINGITA GRUMETI, TANZANIA

All videos shot on location by Oliver Caldow with James Suter, an independent field guide who works with us from time to time. If you enjoyed reading about James’ adventures on the blog, you may also enjoy our monthly Wildlife Reports, written by our other Singita field guides. You can also follow our new Vimeo channel to see the latest Singita videos.

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The Story of Time Mutema

June 17, 2014 - Experience,Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve,People of Singita,Singita Pamushana Lodge

The lives of the people who work at Singita are inevitably entwined with the unspoiled wilderness in which our 12 lodges and camps can be found. Their stories weave through forests, over endless landscapes, and along flowing rivers, touching the lives of our guests and travellers along the way.

Time Mutema, Field Guide at Singita Pamushana Lodge

In this series of #singitastories, we’ll introduce you to some of Singita’s team members; people who dedicate their lives to sharing their passion for Africa. Each tell their story through film – bringing their experiences to life. Follow as we unfold these #singitastories over the next few months and we hope your hearts will be captured as much as ours.

Singita Pamushana Lodge

First is this series is Time Mutema, a fully certified, professional field guide working at Singita Pamushana Lodge in Zimbabwe. He grew up fishing and birding with his friends, and knew from a very young age that he belonged outdoors. He has a lifelong devotion to the bush and all that it inspires. Watch this short film to learn more about Time:

For more of our film and video clips, browse our Vimeo channel for inspiration. You can also stay up-to-date with the latest #singitastories by subscribing to our newsletter using the short form on the right.

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