Category Archives: Sustainable Conservation

The Story of Peter Andrew

July 16, 2014 - Conservation,People of Singita,Singita Faru Faru Lodge,Singita Grumeti,Sustainable Conservation,The Grumeti Fund

The Story of Peter Andrew | Singita Stories

The Story of Peter Andrew | Singita Stories

Sitting poolside at Singita Faru Faru Lodge at tea time, in the dappled shade of the acacia trees, our guests are treated to a feast of sweet and savoury delights before their afternoon game drive. It is a wonderfully indulgent spread; all manner of cakes, candies and confections are on offer, all washed down with homemade lemonade, iced coffee and exotic teas. It might be very hard to imagine that the hands of the pastry chef responsible for these heavenly morsels were also once those of a poacher.

The Story of Peter Andrew | Singita Stories

The Story of Peter Andrew | Singita Stories

Peter Andrew was born in a small village on the outskirts of Singita Grumeti in Tanzania. At the age of 15, with no apparent employment alternatives available to him, he started poaching. He was a skilled huntsman and extremely fast on his feet, which made it easier to escape from conservation officers. This deadly combination made Peter a force to be reckoned with but it wasn’t an easy or ethical way to make a living.

The Story of Peter Andrew | Singita Stories

The Story of Peter Andrew | Singita Stories

In 2003, Peter was approached by Brian Harris, former Wildlife and Community Development Manager of Singita Grumeti, who wanted him to stop poaching in exchange for a job at one of the lodges. He was hesitant initially due to his lack of education, but after further prompting from his grandmother, Peter was eventually persuaded and started off helping with the construction of Singita Sasakwa Lodge. The following year, he was accepted as an apprentice in the kitchen at Singita Sabora Tented Camp, where he excelled in his position. Peter also took it upon himself to specialise in pastry and learn English so that he could improve his situation further. He developed so quickly in fact, that in 2005, Peter was promoted to Commis Chef and then moved to Singita Faru Faru Lodge in 2011 as a full-time Pastry Chef, where he remains a vital part of the kitchen team.

The Story of Peter Andrew | Singita Stories

Food at Singita Faru Faru Lodge

Peter’s achievements are numerous: he turned his back on poaching, found himself a wonderful new profession, worked hard to overcome his circumstances and changed his life for the better. He is rightly proud of himself, as we are proud of him, and the determination and strength of character that make him an invaluable member of the Singita family.

The Story of Peter Andrew | Singita Stories

This is the third in a series of short films profiling the people of Singita, many of whom come from challenging circumstances to become artisans and professionals in their chosen field. These #singitastories share a common thread; of people from humble beginnings who choose to effect positive change in their lives, and the lives of those around them. Read more about the anti-poaching unit at Singita Grumeti and subscribe to the blog to make sure you catch the next video in the series. 

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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.

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Keeping Balance

July 18, 2012 - Awards,Conservation,Sustainable Conservation

The results of the US Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards 2012 readers’ survey were announced recently and brought to light questions about how Singita is doing business differently.  Winning these reputable awards is a highly significant achievement for a relatively small safari company based in South Africa.

Luke Bailes, CEO and founder of Singita, reflected on the approach that Singita takes and how the business is built on a model of time and effort.  We captured some of those meaningful reflections on video.

“There is a balance between the way in which we manage nature and the sense of urgency needed to protect nature.  When we manage the land, we recognize that we need to be delicate and sensitive, moving with the long-term and slow rhythms of the wild while at the same time being intentional, with a sense of urgency to save the environment quickly.”

Watch the video here…

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Watering Seeds of Success

June 13, 2012 - Community Development,Singita Pamushana Lodge,Sustainable Conservation

Sometimes people’s lives are being transformed and revived in a small corner of the globe and we don’t even know it is happening.  That is why we want to share some updates with you of what is taking place on the southern boundary of Malilangwe Reserve where Singita Pamushana Lodge is located (Zimbabwe).  Hluvuko and Chitengenyi are small scale irrigation schemes a few kilometres from Singita Pamushana.  Hluvuko was established in 2005 and Chitengenyi in 2008 and the schemes have been running successfully over the years, reflecting a story of benefits without boundaries.

Let’s take a few steps back in case you are reading this and don’t know about how these projects started.  Singita Pamushana Lodge was established for the sole purpose of generating income to assist in funding the conservation and community outreach programmes coordinated by the Malilangwe Trust.  The Trust’s Neighbour Outreach Programme (NOP) is the vehicle through which Singita Pamushana Lodge and The Trust achieve their community development purpose.  One of the Trust’s key focus areas is the Feeding Programme which helps ensure that local young children receive a nutritionally balanced meal each day, and so are able to maximise the benefits of their schooling.

The small scale irrigation schemes operate alongside this feeding programme, and aim to enhance food security within the wider community, in a sustainable manner. They were established to enable vulnerable communities to grow their own food, and also to supply drinking water for domestic and livestock consumption.  Hluvuko and Chitengenyi are two of the schemes. It is thrilling to be able to report that the objective of food security and an improvement in the nutrition of rural communities bordering the Malilangwe Reserve is now being achieved, for a large part of each year. Communities are now able to grow and access fresh vegetables from the communal gardens.

Hluvuko is 2.5 hectares and has 26 direct beneficiaries. This year they managed to grow tomatoes, onion, carrots, beetroot and rape, most of which will be ready for market in July.  This year is their first year of growing beetroot and the crop is doing very well and most likely will be purchased by the kitchens at Singita Pamushana Lodge.

Chitengenyi is also 2.5 hectares and has 62 direct beneficiaries.  Due to challenges with their borehole, this year they started planting late.  Thanks to the Malilangwe Trust the borehole was repaired last week and the scheme is back on track.

The success of these schemes is that they have gone beyond subsistence level and are now producing excess crops which community members are able to sell in order to supplement their income.  Now that’s a story we want to share far and wide.

Guests can be inspired by the knowledge that their stay is assisting to sustain the wilderness and to support the local communities in practical and effective ways.

(Update provided by Tendai Nhunzwi, Human Resources Manager, Malilangwe Reserve)

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All The Things We Love

February 14, 2012 - Community Development,Conservation,Sustainable Conservation

On a day when love and care are celebrated across the globe, we thought we would share a few photographs that portray what is on our minds and hearts this year as we fiercely continue to protect and promote the bio-diversity of the land in our care.

In days gone by, unspoilt wilderness on earth was found in abundance – but today it is rare, vulnerable and fragile and thus we at Singita work actively on a multitude of projects to protect these rapidly diminishing areas.  Singita is the custodian of over 500,000 acres of some of the most spectacular and diverse habitat in Africa.  It is our intention to protect and maintain this land and its wildlife in their original state.

Furthermore we assist the people who live on the outskirts of the Reserves to understand the intrinsic value of these pristine areas and experience the benefits of preserving the land.  This is facilitated through partnerships with our neighboring rural populations on specific initiatives that produce tangible results.

(Photographs of wildlife by Singita guest – Araquem Alcantara)

Singita employs 1,100 people to care for our special Singita guests and over 500,000 acres of wilderness spread across four beautiful regions within Africa – in addition to retaining some of the continent’s best experts on ecological matters.

Ten different lodge and camp experiences in four iconic destinations in Africa, make up the Singita portfolio.  Due to its low impact, high–value approach, Singita provides the opportunity to experience diminishing, fragile wilderness areas in near exclusivity.  Travelers can rest assured that their presence will be instrumental in enhancing the wellbeing of the area – and for future generations.

We couldn’t deliver the guest experience that we deliver without the exceptional people in our team.

So as each guest soaks in the splendour of the surrounding landscape, rich with wildlife at any of our lodges, we hope they will catch a glimpse of what we love, and the passion we have, to protect the people, landscapes and wildlife that we care about.  Follow the Singita blog to stay in tune with the community and conservation projects that we manage; also product updates and special offerings.

And Happy Valentine’s Day…

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A Modern Conservation Model

August 12, 2011 - Singita Grumeti,Sustainable Conservation,Wildlife

From the desk of Luke Bailes, Singita’s Owner and Chief Executive Officer, about Singita’s modern conservation model.

In 2002, the Grumeti Community and Wildlife Conservation Fund (Grumeti Fund) was granted the right to manage and conserve 350,000 acres of land in the western Serengeti, Tanzania (as a comparison, the entire world famous Masai Mara National Game Reserve in Kenya comprises only 370,000 acres).  The area Grumeti Fund chose to conserve is among the most vital natural habitats left on the planet.  Chief among its wonders is the world renowned wildebeest migration and the multitudes of flora and fauna this strategic buffer zone supports.  By undertaking this project, Grumeti Fund and its supporters hope to conserve one of the world’s true remaining spectacles and thereby embrace former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere’s vision to have “a world in which people and wildlife live together sustainably forever”.


Singita’s involvement with the Grumeti Reserves commenced in 2006 and through the work of Singita’s truly talented management team, the property was transformed and upgraded and now includes 3 expanded lodges and the most exclusive mobile tented camp in the world.   All situated on 350,000 acres of privately managed land.  It is our sincere belief that the only way to protect vast pristine wildlife areas is to practice a model of modern conservation where low impact tourism generates income to assist in funding conservation and community outreach programmes to ensure the long-term sustainability of the reserves.

Without creating this type of virtuous partnership, wildlife will always lose out and the world’s natural wonders will slowly but surely disappear.  If we are successful however, there is no doubt pristine, well-protected wilderness areas like the Serengeti will become truly priceless.

Today, Singita Grumeti Reserves is an unqualified success story.  It has delivered on its most basic promises; to develop the most prolific wildlife populations in East Africa and become the best managed and protected reserve in the Serengeti.  In addition, Singita Grumeti Reserves has been a true leader in the areas of community development and scientific research.

Travel & Leisure, the world’s largest hospitality publication, recently announced the results of its “Top 100 Hotels poll” for 2011 and T+L readers selected Singita Grumeti Reserves as its No1 in the World.  This extraordinary achievement bears testimony to man’s desire to experience authenticity and realness, while we believe at the same time promoting sustainability and a true commitment to conservation.  These qualities together are what we believe makes Singita Grumeti Reserves and the entire Singita portfolio stand out (as an aside, I am also very pleased to let you know that Singita Sabi Sand took second place in this prestigious poll for 2011).

To read more about Singita and ten unique safari experiences in four regions in Africa, spend a few minutes on Singita’s website.

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The Astonishing Trek

August 01, 2011 - Events,Sustainable Conservation,Wildlife

The annual wildebeest migration is one of the world’s most breathtaking spectacles but it also plays a vital ecological role.  Head Guide at Singita Grumeti Reserves shares some insights into the progression of the migration across the plains of Singita Grumeti Reserves this year.

The Wildebeest Migration was declared the 7th new Wonder of the Natural World in June 2006 and it is well justified.  This annual mass movement of over a million wildebeest has to be one of the most awe inspiring sights on earth.  It is very possible that these animals have been making this astonishing trek for millions of years and if that is so then man must have been marveling over this for millennia.

There have been literally rank after rank of wildebeest filing onto the plains on a daily basis.  From the 25th May we watched as the numbers swelled until it seemed there would be room for no more.  Yet they continued to arrive.  The herds of topi and zebra gave way before encroaching hordes; elephant left the low lying areas and headed for the hills.

They passed by Singita Sabora and spent a few days on the plains in and around the tented camp, consuming the new grass that had sprung up after the fire a few months ago.

From there they headed east, grazing and honking as they went.  Thousands of them staked out areas around the Sasakwa airstrip and we spent many hours on the strip keeping it clear for arriving and departing aircraft.

With them came the scavengers, hyena walked unperturbed between them, and the wildebeest hardly gave them a glance.

Vultures soared overhead or dropped down onto carcasses and the wildebeest didn’t seem to care; it seemed that everything benefitted from their arrival.

There was literally nowhere on the property you could go without driving through thousands of wildebeest.  It is an amazing experience that is impossible to describe:  the constant movement of all the animals, the noise of their continual honking, the clash of horns as the bulls charged into one another, and calves and mothers that have become separated call to one another in an attempt to reunite.

The migration faces all challenges head on.  Sometimes there is a bit of trepidation or hesitation by each animal when faced with a tricky river crossing or a wooded area but in order to survive they have to keep moving.  Food and water are the main motivation and as much as wildebeest are responsible for consuming vast quantities of grass on a daily basis they are also a key component in the regeneration of the same grasses, and other grasses they don’t eat.

(Outstanding view of the wildebeest right in front of Singita Faru Faru Lodge.)

Herbivores can and do play a large role in grass successions.  When the rains come through after the migration has moved on there will be a marked regeneration.  The millions of hooves crush and trample the moribund material into the earth and their dung helps to fertilize it.

To read the full report of the annual wildebeest migration through Singita Grumeti Reserves this year, take a look at June Guides’ Diary on the Singita website.  For daily and weekly updates of the location of the migration, follow Singita on Facebook.

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Getting to know Malilangwe

March 28, 2011 - Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve,Singita Pamushana Lodge,Sustainable Conservation,Wildlife

Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, home to Singita Pamushana Lodge, presents a unique sanctuary for wildlife conservation in Africa.  The reserve’s core objective is to provide a naturally functioning ecosystem, where the full spectrum of wild species native to the area are protected, and where these species can live as they have for thousands of years.

Located adjacent to the Gonarezhou National Park in the south-eastern corner of Zimbabwe, Malilangwe occupies an area of 400 km2 of geologically and floristically diverse habitats. In all, 38 distinct plant communities are identified and early government prospectors described the area as ‘very wild broken country.

The rugged but breathtakingly beautiful sandstone hills, with their deep secret ravines and plateaus, likely earned the area this reputation. Weathered grey, sometimes cracked and sometimes smooth, they are adorned with lime, grey and orange lichen. White fig tree roots strangle then split the rock to reveal a myriad of sunset colours. These bewitching hills straddle the property and provide a refuge for mountain acacia and iron wood trees. Under their shade klipspringer and hyraxes hide themselves; wild dogs den and Black Eagles soar.  The hills are studded with fairytale springs and seeps which are favoured watering holes for black rhino, swimming pools for elephants and mud wallows for ‘dagga boys’ – the ill-tempered old buffalo bulls who have left the herd.  Numerous San rock art paintings, dating back to the Late Stone Age (more than 2000 years ago), bear witness to the historic diversity of animals that occupied this area, and whose descendents still roam free.

In the heart of the hills lies the Malilangwe lake, reputed in Zimbabwe for the excellent fishing opportunities it affords. The lake is also home to hippos and crocodiles, and an array of water birds. Few sites could offer a more spectacular fishing spot or sun-downer cruise.

To the south of the hills the soils are dark and rich – derived from basalt rock of the Jurassic period. In this semi-arid savanna, herds of plains species such as impala, zebra and wildebeest graze, and giraffe can be seen browsing Acacia trees. Lichtenstein’s hartebeest and sable also favour this area, but are more elusive. Woven through the mopane and Acacia trees are stream-like depressions that function as ‘vleis’ (open moist grasslands). These provide food for bulk grazers like white rhino and the herds of more than 500 buffalo.

North of the hills is black rhino and wild dog country. This densely wooded area makes game viewing difficult but extremely rewarding. Amongst the Grewia scrub grow giant baobab trees. Hollows in their gnarled branches trap water and their silvery limbs are home to Buffalo Weavers and honey bees. By-gone hunters used climbing pegs to scale the massive stems in search of honey and water. In some trees these climbing pegs are still evident while in others only swirling scars remain.

The Chiredzi River, a perennial source of water, forms the western boundary of Malilangwe. On it’s sandy banks grow tall ebony and sausage trees. They camouflage the rare and mysterious Pel’s Fishing Owl, and in the tangled ‘wait-a-bit’ undergrowth shy nyala feed, bushbuck bark and francolin call. Lions, leopards and hyenas traverse the entire property, and are often heard calling at night.

As a result of a healthy, functioning ecosystem, game has thrived at Malilangwe.  Population growth has soared to such an extent that Malilangwe has been able to restock other wildlife areas in Zimbabwe. Of particular pride are the black and white rhino populations which have grown so well over the past 10 years that Malilangwe is now able to restock other parts of Africa with these remarkable, endangered species.

Article contribution by Sarah Clegg, BSc, MSc – Consulting Ecologist at Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve for the past 15 years.

To view the Malilangwe wildlife in their natural habitat, follow Kim Wolhuter’s extraordinary video footage published regularly on Singita’s Facebook page.  Kim is an internationally acclaimed, documentary film-maker residing on the Malilangwe Reserve recording footage for upcoming documentary projects.

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Five Rhinos Relocated to Tanzania!

May 22, 2010 - Singita Grumeti,Sustainable Conservation,The Grumeti Fund

Five critically endangered eastern black rhino, from South Africa, arrived in the Serengeti yesterday as part of the ‘most ambitious wildlife relocation in East Africa over the past 50 years’.

Photograph by Horst Klemm.

This project – spearheaded by the Singita Grumeti Fund in collaboration with the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) and the Frankfurt Zoological Society – aims to relocate a total of 32 eastern black rhino over a two year period.

Photograph by Horst Klemm.

To ensure the rhinos’ protection during the relocation process, and the project’s long-term sustainability, an elite Serengeti Rhino Protection Unit has been established. This unit is comprised of 23 carefully selected and trained rangers.

For more information and images please visit http://rhinos.singita.com.

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A Brief History of Conservation Efforts in Singita Grumeti Reserves

May 07, 2010 - Africa,Environment,Singita Grumeti,Sustainable Conservation

Just under 10 years ago Singita Grumeti Reserves was a gorgeous landscape but it was completely devoid of game. Illegal poaching and uncontrolled legal hunting had resulted in the collapse of the wildlife population.

Singita Grumeti Reserves - a vast landscape.

The goal with establishing the Singita Grumeti Fund was to generate profit for use in two areas: wildlife conservation and community development.

From the onset of this initiative everyone involved understood that any wildlife conversation efforts would not succeed without the support of the surrounding communities. To be in a position to be able to provide this support the community required education and development; in other words Singita Grumeti Reserves needed to give the community an understanding of conservation and help the community to create a sustainable alternative to the hunting/poaching of game.

From the day the Singita Grumeti Fund was established and into the foreseeable future all profits, including profit generated through tourism, have been and will be used solely to support the Fund. This means that every guest who stays at Singita Sasakwa Lodge, Singita Faru Faru Lodge or Singita Sabora Tented Camp supports the Fund initiatives.

A lioness - Singita Grumeti Reserves.

In just under a decade the Fund team, Singita Grumeti Reserve guests and others have – through their hard work, dedication and donations – helped restore the vast majority of Singita Grumeti Reserves resident wildlife population. Through additional and extensive education efforts and the creation of alternative employment opportunities – for those residing around the Serengeti ecosystem – the groundwork for sustainable conservation, in Singita Grumeti Reserves (and beyond), has been laid.

If you’ve stayed as a guest at Singita Grumeti Reserves, you can be proud of what your stay has helped us achieve.

For more information about the various Singita Grumeti Fund initiatives please email research@grumetireserves.com

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