“What has been achieved at Singita Grumeti is nothing short of incredible.”
These are the words of Stephen Cunliffe, an experienced business, wildlife and conservation manager who serves as the Executive Director of the Grumeti Fund (GF). Together with a team of 165 dedicated staff members and with the support of Singita, the GF has blazed a trail of conservation success in what was once a desolate corner of the Serengeti.
The plains of the 350,000-acre Singita Grumeti concession are alive with animal activity; home to thriving populations of elephant, lion, buffalo and other big game. At the beginning of the 21st century however, it was a near-barren wilderness. A combination of uncontrolled illegal hunting, rampant wildfires and spreading stands of invasive alien vegetation had severely depressed resident wildlife numbers.
A timely intervention in 2002 and the subsequent establishment of a non-profit organisation to manage and protect the concessions began the process of rehabilitating this ecologically degraded area. Shortly afterwards, Singita came on board as a partner with a long-term vision to generate conservation funds through environmentally conscious hospitality. This far-sighted partnership, combined with an effective management and law enforcement strategy, has helped animal populations rebound dramatically, turning Grumeti into the ultimate conservation success story and one of the most sought-after safari destinations on the continent.
The GF is responsible for biodiversity projects that reintroduce endangered and locally extinct wildlife like rhinos and wild dogs to both Grumeti and the wider Serengeti ecosystem, as well as tackling ivory and commercial bush-meat poaching which poses a severe threat to the protected animals in the concessions. The anti-poaching task force comprises over 100 game scouts, 18 special operations officers and a brand new canine unit trained in the detection of contraband. It also makes use of cutting-edge technology to identify and monitor poaching incidents on the ground and assist law enforcement teams across the property to deploy their limited resources efficiently and effectively. On a continent where the elephant population is under extreme pressure, Singita is proud to have seen their numbers quadruple in the Singita Grumeti concession since the Fund was established and their habitat here was restored.
Community outreach is also an important part of the GF’s role, working with more than 20 villages in close proximity to Singita Grumeti to enhance access to quality education, teach environmental awareness, promote responsible natural resource management, and support the establishment of small enterprises. Initiatives like the Singita Serengeti School of Cooking, the Environmental Education Center and a scholarship programme that benefits young learners at secondary and tertiary school level are all examples of how our community partnerships work to reduce the dependency on the land that we are protecting and provide alternative sources of income for rural families.
The application of a holistic adaptive management approach that takes into account the complex interactions between the various elements of this savannah system, the GF has largely restored the natural function of the Serengeti’s western corridor. 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.
The goal of the Grumeti Fund is to contribute to the conservation of the Serengeti ecosystem, its natural landscape, and its wildlife. To do this we partner with local communities and other stakeholders to build capacity and thereby help them to realize their development aspirations. Please click here to support our passionate team of conservationists »