Tag Archives: Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve

Singita Pamushana Lodge: An African Gem

December 20, 2012 - Conservation,Environment,Experience,Lodges and Camps,Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve,Safari,Singita Pamushana Lodge,Wildlife

James Suter

Singita Pamushana Lodge is easily described as one of the most beautiful places on earth. Situated in the heart of the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve in south-eastern Zimbabwe, it is an oasis of beauty, thriving with both wildlife and a rich archaeological and cultural heritage. It is home to over four hundred species of birds, including fourteen species of eagle and ten different types of owls. The area is dotted with majestic baobabs and cathedral-like mopane forests, as well as impressive rocky outcrops littered with nearly a hundred rock painting sites dating back over two thousand years. I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to discover all the wonders of this untouched wilderness area for myself.

Lion at Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve

Rhino at Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve

The reserve was established back in 1994 in order to conserve forty thousand hectares of land, its environment and its wildlife. A strong focus was placed on safeguarding protected species such as the black and white rhino, the roan antelope, and Zimbabwe’s most rare antelope, the Lichtenstein’s hartebeest.

Cheetah at Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve

Wildlife of Singita Pamushana Lodge

Malilangwe is also where I had my most memorable and unusual cheetah sighting. I saw my first ever pangolin here, a unique species with its shy and nocturnal habits making it almost impossible to observe in the wild. I came face to face with the ill-tempered black rhino and lived to tell the tale. I scaled the massive sandstone outcrops, embracing the scenic treasures and meandered along the Chiredzi River.

Baobab tree at Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve

Wildlife of Singita Pamushana Lodge

I truly soaked up every minute and cherished every unique sighting, and I can’t wait to share all my experiences at Singita Pamushana Lodge with you over the next few weeks.

Find out more about the unique rock art that surrounds the lodge by reading our recent blog article. James Suter will be back next week with the extraordinary tale of an unfortgettable cheetah sighting.

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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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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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Empowering communities to be the change

July 06, 2010 - Community Development,Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve,Singita Pamushana Lodge

Singita Pamushana is situated in the 140 000 acre Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve. The Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve operates the Malilangwe Trust, much like the Singita Grumeti Reserves operates the Grumeti Fund. This trust is actively involved in uplifting, among other things, the surrounding communities.

The Malilangwe Trust’s approach to community upliftment is one of community empowerment. In all their initiatives the affected community is responsible for 70% of the project and the Malilangwe Trust is responsible for the remaining 30%.

This forward thinking community ownership approach has been a vital aspect in the long-term success of the Trust community focused programmes. The other vital element, in the long-term success of the various initiatives, has been the involvement of government.

In the school, clinic and irrigation garden projects the Trust has supplied the infrastructure leaving room for government to supply the staff, medication, training, books and other necessary supplies.

This approach – the partnership between the Malilangwe Trust and the communities – and the involvement of government has resulted in effective, sustainable and far-reaching upliftment.

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Have you lost your heart to a baobab lately?

June 30, 2010 - Environment,Singita Pamushana Lodge

The Shangaan believe that the baobab holds immense power. In fact it is a widely held Shangaan belief that when a person sits beneath a baobab tree it steals a piece of that person’s heart. This piece is only returned when they once again sit beneath that same baobab tree.

The baobab is the quintessential African tree and the Malilangwe Reserve is full of these beautiful giants.

Singita Pamushana Lodge and the Baobab.

The direct translation of the word baobab is tree of life, which is apt considering that every part of it can be used.

1. The white pulp, from the fruit of the baobab, is mixed with water and used as a treatment for fever, colds and flu.
2. The seeds, from the baobab fruit, are refreshing to suck on and – when roasted – they make an excellent coffee style        hot beverage.
3. Over the years hollow baobab trunks have served as houses, prisons, storage barns and places of refuge from                    animals.
4. The leaves can be boiled and eaten just like spinach.
5. The bark makes excellent ropes and floor mats. It is also believed to have the power to help an individual secure               respect, prestige and security in their job.

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    The Mopani – a butterfly by any other name is still just as beautiful …

    June 28, 2010 - Environment,Singita Pamushana Lodge

    The Mopani tree bears this beautiful name thanks to its butterfly shaped leaves. Mopani means butterfly.

    The amazing Mopani tree has more to it than just butterfly shaped leaves … it is also highly intelligent in design. It stores tannins, which lie dormant in its root and bark until an animal tries to eat the leaves.  When an animal takes a nibble it releases the tannin making the leaves inedible to most creatures.

    The Mopani Tree.

    photo CC attribution: artbandito on Flickr

    The Mopani tree may be intelligent in design but it is also an elephant’s favourite snack. To get past the tannin issue the elephant doesn’t bother with nibbling off the tree instead it tears a whole Mopani branch from the tree. So, while the rest of the Mopani is rendered inedible thanks to the tannin, the elephant’s branch tastes delicious!

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    Getting to know the locals – the Shangaan People in Zimbabwe

    June 18, 2010 - Africa,Singita Pamushana Lodge

    The original Shangaan took their name from their king, Soshangane. The Shangaan weren’t traditionally warriors instead they were agriculturalists and pastoralists.

    At the height of his power the King Soshangane ruled the impressive Gaza Empire. This empire consisted of what is now south-eastern Zimbabwe – which is where the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve and Singita Pamushana Lodge are situated – as well as the area from the Save River to the southern part of Mozambique.

    In traditional Shangaan culture the sangoma, a healer and spiritual guide, is seen to be one of the most important members of the Shangaan tribe. Over the years the sangoma’s medicine gourd, a nhunguvani, has become an accepted symbol of the traditional cultural heritage of the Shangaan.

    The Shangaan are now mainly found in southern Mozambique and in the Limpopo Province of South Africa.

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    Cooling off in the shade – what you didn’t know about the Fever tree

    June 16, 2010 - Did You Know?,Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve

    The Fever tree is completely harmless but they have the early pioneers to blame for their ominous sounding name.

    Image courtesy of shortshot (http://www.flickr.com/photos/shortshot/354990089/)

    The pioneers believed that Fever trees were the cause of malaria outbreaks. It was eventually proved that Fever trees had absolutely nothing to do with malaria. The only thing the wrongfully accused Fever trees share with the real malaria culprits, the female Anopheles mosquitoes, is a love of swampy areas.

    Nevertheless the story goes that locals would lie down in the shade of the tree to escape the burning sun. Invariably, they would fall asleep and would wake up covered in mosquito bites which would often lead to the onset of malaria.

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