Our conservation objective is to restore and sustain the historic biodiversity of the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve. In addition to the benefits for the reserve, it is envisaged that lessons learned here will help to derive best practice protocols that will have application in other conservation initiatives, both regionally and internationally. On the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, which is home to Singita Pamushana Lodge, we have adopted a scientific approach to conservation. Our management practice is underpinned by rigorous scientific research conducted by an on-site Research Department. Research is directed at understanding how the Malilangwe ecosystem works and findings are used by the Wildlife Department to tailor management activities that ensure natural functioning of the key ecological processes.
At the onset it was recognized that elements of biodiversity had been lost from the reserve. The local extinction of both black and white rhinoceros had resulted in an obvious omission from the historic fauna, and a programme to reintroduce these species was initiated in 1998.
Twenty-eight black and fifteen white rhino were purchased from Kwa-Zulu Natal in South Africa and held in pens in the north of the reserve until they were acclimatized to their new environment. Upon release, the animals were monitored intensively by Malilangwe’s security force, with daily surveillance being recorded in a specifically designed database. All animals were individually identifiable through of a system of ear notches.
By conducting an annual ear-notching programme, and on-going training of the security force, the intensive monitoring has been sustained for the past 15 years. The effort has paid off, and we are heartened to report substantial increases in both populations, to the extent that 25 white rhino have been relocated to restock other conservation areas.
Poaching is a continual threat and the success of the reintroduction and its continuation can largely be attributed to both the on-going financial investment that is required in our security force and their passionate commitment to protecting the reserve’s wildlife.
Further conservation projects at Singita Pamushana Lodge
Protection of biological assets
A motivated, well-trained and equipped security force works around the clock to protect the reserve’s wildlife. Malilangwe is a fenced reserve, and a maintenance team works tirelessly to ensure that the 121km of fencing is in good working order.
Reintroduction and restocking of locally extinct or vulnerable fauna
A free-ranging population of the locally endangered Lichtenstein’s hartebeest has been re-established. While not yet self-sustaining, monitoring has revealed some encouraging trends, and hopefully with some carefully planned management interventions this population will be become sustainable in the near future.
A project to re-establish a free-ranging population of roan antelope is also underway, although not as far as advanced as the hartebeest re-introduction.
Sable antelope as well as some pangolins and have been relocated to the reserve in recent years to restock existing populations of these regionally vulnerable animals.
Monitoring of the vegetation resource, large mammal populations and aquatic systems is on-going.
Alien plant control
A work force dedicates a portion of its time to controlling the spread of invasive alien plants within the reserve.
The Research Department identifies pertinent conservation questions that are answered by scientific research conducted by postgraduate university students. To date sixteen MSc, and three PhD level studies have been sponsored. The findings provide essential information for conservation planning and decision-making.
Preservation of cultural heritage
Malilangwe has had a long history of human occupation, from the early hunter-gatherers to the more recent agro-pastoralists. Each of these groups has left behind evidence of their presence. One of our objectives is to understand how these people interacted with the environment and also with each other. To this end, several archaeological studies have been conducted, and preservation of rock art and other sites of cultural interest is an important component of our work. In addition, Kambako Living Museum of Bushcraft has been set up in the adjacent communal area to preserve the vanishing bushcraft skills of the local Shangaan people.
Sustainable tourism is what allows Singita to be able to carry out this important work. Each guest represents a valuable contribution towards conservation measures in the reserve. Not only does the revenue from tourism support conservation initiatives, but just by coming to see this place, putting value on it and sharing the beauty with others, it inherently makes a world of difference.
For guests seeking to make a larger contribution, donations are accepted and welcome. Please speak to your Singita Pamushana Lodge Manager if you would like more information or contact Singita's Group HR and Community Development Manager Pam Richardson at 27 21 683 3424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.