The African continent is captivating for many reasons; exotic landscapes, diverse cultures and astounding natural beauty among them. A rich and varied wildlife population is no doubt the highlight for many visitors to Africa, with many unique and mysterious species inhabiting our jungles and grasslands. It is critical that the bio-diversity of this land is protected and conserved, which is why Singita’s core vision is to preserve large tracts of wilderness in Africa for future generations with hands-on conservation teams on each property.
The experienced and highly-skilled Singita field guides play a critical role in this process by educating guests about the importance of conservation and instilling in them a deep sense of appreciation for our natural environment. Their beautiful photos from twice-daily game drives have become an extremely popular feature of the social media accounts and are an inspiration to all members of the Singita family. Here, they have selected their favourites from 2013 for you to enjoy:
Catch up on our monthly Wildlife Reports and like our Facebook page for first-hand ranger reports straight from the bushveld.
There is an all too familiar story in Africa. It is one of poverty, exacerbated by a lack of education and subsequent unemployment, often fuelled by a voracious foreign market eager to exploit these circumstances. The net result is a culture of poaching – the illegal “harvesting” of natural resources, either for direct subsistence or further sale, all in an effort to feed and educate a poacher’s family. The rewards are scant for those locals who risk life and limb and the cycle is a tremendously difficult one to break.
Students at the Singita Grumeti Environmental Education Centre (EEC) were recently given a very stark glimpse into that world by a most unlikely champion of the anti-poaching fraternity – a hardened and once-feared poacher named Shaban Andrea.
A skilled hunter of much repute in the local communities, Mr Andrea’s grade 7 level of education precluded him finding gainful employment in the formal economy of Tanzania, so he exploited his primary skill to tremendous effect. His poaching exploits crossed international borders and his “hit list” included elephant and rhino, amongst other vulnerable and protected species. Despite his efficacy as a poacher and his position as a leader of one of East Africa’s best-known poaching gangs, he still struggled to feed, let alone educate, his growing family. Most of the money he earned was used to bail him out of jail following two separate arrests by Singita Grumeti Fund scouts who patrol the 350,000-acre conservation area adjacent to the Serengeti National Park.
After being arrested a third time, he was inspired to hang up his rifle and look for work outside of the world of poaching. The Fund saw his potential and offered him an opportunity to work with the Anti-Poaching Unit. After negotiating a reduced sentence and serving his time, Mr Andrea was released and appointed to the Wildlife Monitoring and Research team where he has worked ever since. For the first time in his life, he earned an honest wage and with hard work has been able to build a home for his family and is very proud to have two sons currently at university.
Beyond the personal success of this story, the opportunity that Shaban Andrea was given by Singita has had a far-reaching effect on the young minds that listen to him recount his experiences whilst at the EEC. He leaves the learners with a short and simple message: that there is simply no benefit to the killing of Africa’s wildlife and that the future lies in their protection.
The problem of poaching in Africa remains a complex one, one that requires a multi-faceted and often unconventional approach in the search for solutions. Through a very human act of giving a man a second chance, Singita has exposed an invaluable resource in the fight against poaching – a man with a story.
You can find out more about the EEC on our website, as well as our other community development and conservation efforts. You might also like to know about Singita’s recent involvement in the rollout of the Rhino Horn Treatment Programme to help combat poaching in the Sabi Sand.
Eighty kilometres of gruelling single track cycling every day across dusty, rugged terrain through South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana, clocking up 300 kilometres over 4 days – we asked General Manager of Singita Sabi Sand what compels him to undergo this test of endurance year after year.
Actually there are a few good reasons why Jason Trollip keeps coming back for more. Amongst them are the incredible scenery, great wildlife and caring community spirit created by this event. However Jason tells us that the overriding goal is to raise funds for Children in the Wilderness and that’s really what tugs at his heart strings.
Children in the Wilderness is a non-profit environmental and life skills educational programme. Their vision is something that Singita can relate to and stand behind.
Jason – “The sense of achievement at the end of 4 days is incredible and experiencing 300 kilometres of some of the best areas that Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa have to offer is just sensational.
You have to at all times remember that the whole event is to raise money for environmental awareness – it’s a great cause, and knowing we are helping young people and conservation by having so much fun, made it a perfect 5 days away!”
Jason Trollip, General Manager, Singita Sabi Sand. Jason is now in his 9th year at Singita, beginning at Singita Kruger National Park and then most recently managing Singita Sabi Sand properties. No stranger to the Lowveld area, Jason grew up here, and prior to his management roles he was a field guide for 7 years – that totals 15 years in the bush. With a keen interest in birding, we look forward to seeing some of his sightings captured on camera.
Keeping past students inspired, and therefore actively involved in improving their surroundings, has been key to the success of the Singita Grumeti Fund Environmental Centre and the course it offers.
Students who attend the course already belong to an ecology club in each school that participates in the course.
The best ecology clubs – in terms of projects, involvement etc – are rewarded and the best individuals, within these clubs, are rewarded further. This creates healthy competition both between the different clubs and within the clubs where the ultimate benefactor is the environment.
So far, a total of 132 students and 22 teachers have taken part in the course. The Singita Grumeti Fund Environmental Centre is still in contact with each and every one of these students and teachers. In fact, the 22 teachers recently took it upon themselves to organise a meeting where they discussed: who was doing what, what was working and why it was working.