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Conservation at Singita Serengeti

Grumeti - Tanzania

Conservation at Singita Serengeti

The Serengeti plains teem with wildlife, including vast herds of plains game, a plethora of predators and the spectacle of the annual wildebeest migration. Through the Singita Grumeti Fund, Singita is the proud custodian of 350,000 acres of this unique ecosystem. Ensuring the continued protection of Singita’s concessions, situated primarily in the critical western Corridor of the plains, is essential to the future sustainability of the ancient pilgrimage that defines these lands.

However, when the Singita Grumeti Fund took over the management of this area in 2003, a combination of uncontrolled illegal hunting, rampant wildfires and spreading stands of invasive alien vegetation had severely depressed resident wildlife numbers.

Through the application of a holistic adaptive management approach that takes into account the complex interactions between the various elements of this savannah system, Singita’s team has largely restored its natural function. The result is a magnificent wilderness experience that captivates our guests and empowers our tourism model to support the ongoing conservation work and community engagement.

Reserve Integrity

As human populations in the communities bordering the Serengeti continue to increase, pressure on the system’s natural resources mounts. Through creating economic opportunities for these communities, Singita’s tourism model aims to reduce their reliance on unsustainable hunting of indigenous wildlife. This is our long-term solution to this challenge, but is complemented by a significant element of direct protection of the resources through the deployment of skilled, well-equipped anti-poaching teams.

Through a combination of foot patrols, permanent observation posts and rapid reaction units, the Singita Grumeti Fund has achieved an enormous reduction in the level of illegal hunting on its concessions. The success of this operation is borne out by the incredible growth in numbers of resident large mammals: to illustrate, the elephant population has quadrupled, giraffe and topi have almost tripled and there are ten times more buffalo than there were just 11 years ago.

Tanzania day 1.

Fire Management

Done in isolation, protecting a system from over-hunting will not result in the kind of wildlife population growth that has been achieved at Singita Serengeti.

Management must also ensure that there is sufficient graze (grass) and browse (leaves) available to support growing numbers of large herbivores.

Use of fire is a critical tool in achieving such a balance in a savannah system, where fire effectively plays the role of a giant herbivore.

Too much fire too often can convert woodlands to grassland, whilst too little fire too infrequently results in woody encroachment into grasslands.

In both of these cases, the pioneering grass and woody species are often less nutritious than those in a mature ecosystem, reducing overall food availability. Through regular vegetation surveys and a well-informed fire-decision matrix, our resident ecologists have achieved a balance that has enabled the system to support the fantastic increases in grazing and browsing animals observed.

Singita Serengeti

Alien Plant Removal

Invasive alien plants are species that do not occur naturally in an area – they have been introduced, usually by humans, either intentionally or by mistake.

As they generally have no natural enemies in their new homes, these invaders are able to outcompete native species and quickly take over large swathes of land. The resultant thickets are often almost impenetrable and inedible for indigenous mammals, meaning that the entire area is lost to indigenous fauna and flora alike.

Grumeti Wildlife Report March 3

Endangered Species Reintroductions

Part of the commitment of the Singita Grumeti Fund is the re-establishment of species that, through human pressure, have become locally extinct in the area in the past. Programmes to date include reintroductions of black rhino and African wild dog. Black rhino in the Serengeti belong to the Critically-Endangered East African variety, the rarest of the three subspecies that have so far evaded extinction. Heavily poached historically, and under pressure again today, there are less than 800 of these animals left in the wild.

The Singita Grumeti Fund is working with Tanzanian authorities on a reintroduction programme to boost numbers of this species in the Serengeti. A highly social carnivore, African wild dogs are heavily persecuted carnivores, classified as endangered across their range. Tanzania is no exception, and the Singita Grumeti Fund has been instrumental in the release of over 100 of these animals into the Serengeti in recent years, where they have quickly reoccupied their particular hunting niche in the system.

rhino

Sustainability

Singita’s responsible tourism model is built on the idea of ‘fewer beds in larger areas’, and is exemplified in its Serengeti operation: just two lodges, three tented camps and a private villa are spread out over the entire 350,000 acres of wilderness. This extremely low density ensures a minimalist footprint on the land.

The lodges are undergoing a further shift towards sustainability with solar installations delivering an ever-increasing proportion of power requirements and our sustainability team is constantly exploring innovative ways of reducing the overall impact of our tourism operation on the environment.

Solar power at Singita Sabora Tented Camp