Winter’s arrival was sudden and all too soon, transforming the bush by its Midas touch. No sooner had we acclimatized to prepare ourselves for the cold, winter seemingly checked out and left us with sunny days in the mid to late 20s (Celsius). The Sabi stars have been out in full bloom in and around the lodge, adding a touch of finesse to the dry and dusty surroundings.
Our wildlife continues to dazzle and surprise us – from dusty elephant herds squandering water at a pan to fish eagles manoeuvring through the air as they defend their nests from other birds of prey. Lion and leopard cubs have poked their little faces out from the diminishing grassland to prove to us that there are hidden wonders still out there.
Shelley Mitchley, Lodge Manager – Singita Pamushana Lodge, Zimbabwe
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)
Jenny Hishin – Singita Guide – shares some of her experiences from Singita Pamushana Lodge.
I’ve mentioned that we’ve been having some hair-raisingly close encounters with a black rhino (Diceros bicornis) around the area of the Malilangwe Dam, at the foot of the lodge. The story began in June when staff members awoke to the colossal sounds of huffing, puffing, bashing and crashing.
Two male black rhinos were engaged in a mighty battle over what seemed to be a territorial dispute. One of the bulls was injured but our scouts managed to keep track of him and determine the extent of his injuries – thankfully he recovered well.
The battle aside, this aggression over territory is an encouraging sign for us because it has been observed that rhinos in low density populations become more territorial and less tolerant of intruders as their population density increases.
Rhinos use dung and urine to stake out the areas of their rule, and their middens act as important communication posts to other rhinos wanting to pass through the area peacefully or challenge the ruler for it.
Black rhinos are not as social as white rhinos (Ceratotherium simum) and solitary individuals of both sexes are likely to be encountered. They have earned the reputation from humans as irascible, temperamental animals that prefer to investigate and possibly chase off a potential threat, rather than wait to be attacked or hope that the intruder will go away.
Three months after the initial battle it now seems certain that the victor enjoys the banks of the vast dam as his exclusive real estate. A highlight of a peaceful boat cruise on the luxury Suncatcher is to spot him on the dam’s green fringe – and a highlight of a far less peaceful excursion is to find him in the harbour area where we moor the boats!
For more of Jenny Hishin’s wildlife updates, follow the monthly Singita Pamushana Guides’ Diary – posted on Singita’s website.
Did you know that when guests stay at Singita Pamushana all proceeds are used to fund various projects managed by the reserve’s Malilangwe Trust? A key, joint project that the Malilangwe Trust has embarked upon is to establish irrigation schemes so that nearby villagers and their livestock have a clean supply of water and are able grow their own vegetables. Women and children tend the crops – channeling water into the fields (thanks to a borehole that has been sunk), and keep up with weeding and removing pests. When you are next at Singita Pamushana, pay them a visit and they’ll proudly show you the crops – onions, cabbage and other leafy greens are in season right now, and you’re bound to be treated to an emotive impromptu choir performance!
Approximately 10,000 people located around the Malilangwe Reserve are now assisted daily through the provision of drinkable, clean borehole water.
For further information on this project please liaise with our Singita Pamushana Lodge Manager or with Singita HR & Community Development Manager, Pam Richardson – please contact us.
By Jenny Hishin
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.
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 décor at Singita’s Pamushana Lodge draws its inspiration from the local Shangaan culture creating an authentic and luxurious Zimbabwe safari experience for guests. Here there are no muted-khaki or beige tones in sight. Instead rich patterned fabrics, decadent and heavy wood furniture, beading, African frescos and other artwork are used to create a sumptuous and captivating lodge setting.
Nothing has been ignored or overlooked in both the suites and the public lodge areas. The suites, central bar, swimming pools, indoor and outdoor sitting rooms and dining areas are all wonderfully comfortable and inviting with superb attention to detail.
The hand-painted and distinctly patterned walls throughout Singita Pamushana Lodge call out, they want to be touched. The carved wood of the bar needs to be stroked. The deck, overlooking the dam, has to be lounged on at least once a day and the suites’ private outdoor showers beckon morning, noon and night.
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.
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.