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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
The Fever tree is completely harmless but they have the early pioneers to blame for their ominous sounding name.
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.
Singita Pamushana Lodge is an easy and relatively short flight from Johannesburg.
The Monday and Thursday weekly flights are scheduled to depart at 13h40 from OR Tambo International Airport to Buffalo Range International Airport, Zimbabwe, where you’re met by a Singita representative. From Buffalo Range Ridge Airport you are transported by road to Singita Pamushana Lodge.
The best part of the trip, (obviously we’re talking about the best part of the trip before you arrive at Singita Pamushana Lodge), has to be standing on the runway waiting to board the flight to Zimbabwe. As you wait you’ll have the opportunity watch a series of international flights prepare for takeoff, just 100 metres from where you’re standing, while you nonchalantly sip on your ice-cold beverage and pretend this is all completely normal.
It’s the most informal and charming airport experience you’re ever likely to experience; and it all takes place on the runway of South Africa’s largest International Airport … incredible!
When flying with a smaller airline, checking in can be quite confusing. To help make sure you’re 100% in the-know we’ve included the following tips:
- If you’re flying on the Federal Air scheduled flight check-in is at International Departures, Terminal A, at counter 84.
- Unless you’ve been instructed otherwise, check-in will always be at counter 84, Terminal A.
- In all likelihood, counter 84 will display another airline’s signage. Ignore this. Federal Air shares the check-in counter with other airlines and is only allowed access to the check-in desk an hour before the flight is scheduled to leave.
Singita in Zimbabwe consists of only the extraordinary Singita Pamushana Lodge.
Singita Pamushana Lodge is set in the 130 000 acre Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve. This reserve is located in the southern corner of Zimbabwe and it is a precious breeding ground for a number of endangered species. In fact the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve boasts one of the highest concentrations of Black Rhino in Africa.
The tranquil and beautiful Singita Pamushana Lodge overlooks the 1500 acre Malilangwe Lake and its surrounding sandstone hills.