Tag Archives: conservation

Special Species at Singita

July 09, 2013 - Africa,Conservation,Experience,Singita Pamushana Lodge,Wildlife

Field guide James Suter has spent a year travelling between Singita’s lodges in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Tanzania and reporting on the wildlife population of each reserve. He recently visited Singita Pamushana Lodge and discovered some unusual local inhabitants.

James Suter at Singita Pamushana Lodge
The diversity of wildlife to be found at Singita Pamushana Lodge is unmatched in Southern Africa. It is home not only to the well-known “Big Five” but also  the “Little Six,” a group of small antelope which includes klipspringer, suni, grey duiker, steenbokgrysbok and oribi. The Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve also provides a sanctuary for three very uncommon antelope: the sable, roan and Lichtenstein’s hartebeest. These shy animals are rarely seen and this area provides a fantastic opportunity to spot them.

Little Six at Singita Pamushana Lodge

Sable antelope live in savanna woodlands and inhabit grassland areas during the dry season. Their remarkable, scimitar-shaped horns, while beautiful, have unfortunately led to a sharp decline in the species as they are hunted for this highly prized trophy. They are unmistakable and luckily for us, sightings are relatively common in the concession. We were even lucky enough to see a large breeding herd of fifteen recently, as they made their way through the Mopane forests.

Little Six at Singita Pamushana Lodge

The roan antelope, named for their reddish-brown colouring, are similar in appearance to the sable and are one of the largest species of antelope found in Africa, exceeded in size only by the African buffalo and eland. There has also been a substantial reduction in both numbers and range of these animals, largely as a result of illegal poaching and the destruction of their natural habitat. Roan antelope are also heavily reliant on tall grasses and are vulnerable to lack of rainfall, making extended dry seasons and drought a serious threat to their survival.

Little Six at Singita Pamushana Lodge

The Lichtenstein’s hartebeest is the rarest mammal in Zimbabwe. They can run up to 60 km per hour and the males are highly territorial. The herd is generally led by an adult male, who often takes up watch on a patch of elevated ground, usually in the form of a termite mound. This male defends a territory of about 2.5 square kilometers year-round and during the rut, a male with a territory will try to round up as many females as possible. At this time, fights between rival males are common, and can last for extended periods of time.

Little Six at Singita Pamushana Lodge

Little Six at Singita Pamushana Lodge

Visit our website to find out more about the conservation programmes at Singita Pamushana Lodge and don’t forget to read our monthly Wildlife Reports from the region. 

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Ancient Art: Malilangwe’s primitive paintings

November 14, 2012 - Conservation,Did You Know?,History,Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve,Safari,Singita Pamushana Lodge

Singita Pamushana Lodge is located in the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve; 130 000 acres of wilderness in the southern corner of Zimbabwe. It is a spectacularly diverse and beautiful piece of Africa, and is also home to nearly 100 rock art sites that date back more than 2 000 years. The careful protection of these sites is a key part of Singita’s conservation philosophy, and allows this ancient artwork to be preserved for future generations to enjoy. Head Guide at Singita Pamushana, Brad Fouché, shares his knowledge on the subject.

The area around the lodge is known for its lush mopane forests and majestic baobab trees, as well as a range of magical sandstone outcrops where most of the San paintings are located.

Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve Rock Art 1

In Zimbabwe there are 15 000 known rock art and engraving sites, of which many are unique to the country, with little or no other examples found in the rest of Southern Africa. The three different groups of paintings found at the reserve are from San or Bushman hunter-gatherers, Iron Age farmers and Koi Koi/Khoekhoen people.

Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve Rock Art 2

In addition to professional research undertaken to locate Stone and Iron Age rock painting sites in the area, field staff and guides at Singita Pamushana have recorded a great many other examples. No less than five recording projects have been conducted on the reserve in the last decade, and a total of 87 sites being recorded, with surely many more as yet undiscovered.

Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve Rock Art 3

Some of the unique rock art that can be found here includes:

* Five extremely rare bi-cephalic (double-headed) animals, of which only two other examples have been discovered in Southern Africa.
* Fly whisks, which are relatively common in San rock art and were used only during the “curing” or “trance dance”.
* Two examples of formlings, a term coined by ethnologist and archaeologist Leo Frobenius to describe “large forms, shaped like galls or livers, into which human figures are painted”, and unique to the whole of Zimbabwe. Their meaning however remains poorly understood.
* Various animals, including elephant, rhino, hippo, buffalo, giraffe, hartebeest, wildebeest, zebra, roan antelope, sable, kudu, impala, wild dog, baboon, aardvark, ostrich and unidentified birds of prey.

Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve Rock Art 4

Find out more about the inspiration behind Singita Pamushana Lodge, one of Africa’s best-kept secrets, and read our latest Guides’ Diary from the area, written by field guide Jenny Hishin.

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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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Striking Gold

May 18, 2012 - Africa,Conservation,Safari

While driving through the Northern parts of the Lebombo concession, a guide calls in over the radio that he has just located two lionesses.  Both the animals were lactating as their mamary glands were enlarged.  This got me really excited and I knew if we was patient and spent some time with these animals we stood a good chance of being introduced to her cubs.

As we gained visual of the two cats, they separated and I decided to stick with the one that was heading staight toward a large drainage line, a perfect area for her to hide her youngsters.  She was walking with purpose and the excitement levels started to build amongst us in the vehicle. We followed her for about thirty minutes keeping our distance, being careful not to disturb her.  She eventually lead us through a drainage line toward a dense thicket protected by large amoured thorns.  Switching off the vehicle, all in silence, heads cocked in anticipation, we listened. Time passed as we sat under the cover of a large sigamore fig waiting, and eager to find out if this was the very place this lioness had chosen to hide her cubs.  To our amazement we heard a faint cry coming from deep withing the inaccessible brush, a sound that could only be produced by a lion cub.

We approached cautiously towards the thicket and finally gained visual of two tiny cubs, no more than three weeks old. It was such a build up to such an incredible reward.  What was so astonishing to me was how relaxed the mother was with the presence of the vehicle, showing no sign of aggression.  The cubs grew inquisitive  and eventually approached within a meter of the vehicle constantly calling, seeking their mother’s approval.  These cubs were very young and had not yet been introduced to the rest of the pride.  What an incredible moment it was.

We discussed how vital it was for the cubs to have a safe haven and that during the hiding period they were at great risk.  But these cubs were very well hidden and stood a good chance of survival.  I felt privilaged to have been aquainted with these tiny creatures and grateful to their mother for tolorating our presence.

Keep up with our weekly blog series as James Suter takes us on a journey through the African bushveld, bringing the wild closer.

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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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Wildlife – The News in Pictures

October 26, 2011 - Kruger National Park,Wildlife

The Xirombe lion pride – Singita Kruger National Park

Wild dog

Buffalo bull

Xinkelengane female leopard

A remarkable week of game viewing at Singita Kruger this week.  Behind the lens is Singita Guide, Marlon du Toit, who loves every minute of his day introducing the wilderness to guests at Singita Lebombo and Sweni Lodges.

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Wonderful and Rare Sighting

October 10, 2011 - Safari,Singita Pamushana Lodge,Wildlife

A wonderful sighting this morning (Singita Pamushana, Zimbabwe) of a relaxed mother leopard and her two tiny cubs.  Hours were spent watching their intimate rituals of nursing, bathing and playing – Jenny Hishin.

For more photographs of this remarkable sighting, take a look at Singita’s Facebook page.

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Watching out for Rhino

September 27, 2011 - Conservation,Environment,Events,Sabi Sand

Controlling poaching in the Sabi Sand Reserve is one of the Singita environmental team’s prime responsibilities.  World Rhino Day on the 22nd of September provided a valuable opportunity for staff at Singita to build awareness of the devastation that is caused by poaching which is slowly reducing the world population of rhino on a daily basis. To date this year in South Africa alone, a count of 290 rhinos have been poached – we take those statistics very seriously.

On the 22nd the team at Singita Sabi Sand put their full efforts behind supporting World Rhino Day – starting the day with the Guides and Trackers sporting red caps, branded with the World Rhino Day logo.  Guests soon donned red caps for game drives to show their support.  For the more energetic, twelve Singita staff took part in a cycling event – the ‘Ride for Rhinos’ 25 kilometre challenge through the Sabi Sand Reserve and into the local communities – with the goal to raise awareness of the misconception around rhino horn usage for medicinal purposes.  Not only was it a fun and engaging activity in the community but it also helped to generate generous funding to be channeled directly to a rhino fund.

A sweet ending to the day – even the cupcakes at tea-time helped to nudge conversations toward the future of rhinos.  Thanks to guests and staff for their enthusiasm and support for a day of awareness, well-celebrated.

To find out more about Singita’s conservation efforts, read about significant projects on Singita’s website.

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Conservation Success

November 24, 2010 - Events

Wildlife conservation is a pursuit Singita is committed to with heartfelt determination, but unfortunately one is inundated all too often with distressing stories when viewed on a global scale. However, from Singita Pamushana on the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve in Zimbabwe, we can report a resounding success that took place in October. We’ve just completed a relocation of 210 African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) to a nearby conservancy.

Our annual census via helicopter confirmed that there were approximately 2 300 buffalo on the reserve. The ideal carrying capacity for buffalo given the area and resources is about 2 000. Statistics show that the population is growing at 10 to 12% every year which is as expected in a well-managed, balanced ecosystem. These encouraging results allowed us to sell some of the buffalo to another Zimbabwean conservancy that was underpopulated. Healthy buffalo fetch very good prices and this revenue will of course, be generated into further conservation efforts.

Rounding up hundreds of one of Africa’s most dangerous animals is a task of bravery, discipline and well-planned procedure. A helicopter herds them into a large area cordoned off with poles and reinforced sheeting. Then a vehicle with a large crusher attached to the bull bars directs them into a chute, and finally on to a transportation vehicle.

It is hot, dry and dusty work for the toughest of teams used to dealing with danger and split-second decisions; and although the animals are unavoidably stressed in the procedure this is kept to a minimum and is all highly worthwhile knowing that they’ll be able to repopulate another conservation area, thanks to Malilangwe’s conservation efforts.

Report by Jenny Hishin (previous Singita Guide).  To follow more of our updates at the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, read our Guides’ Diaries posted monthly on our website.

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