How Sango’s community projects make a difference to the lives of Zimbabweans.

Here at Sango, we have a daily dedication and unwavering love for the land and community. Tsumbei Nemabwe, our valued community leader, has been at the heart of our story since 1994. Join us as he delves into our women’s empowerment initiatives and the enriching wildlife experience that awaits our guests at Sango.

Tsumbei: As Resource Manager for Sango, I’m actively involved in many community projects. A key initiative is community empowerment through employment. We have women working out of their homes five days a week, maintaining and repairing our fences. We’ve provided them with tools and wire so that they can deal with problems such as broken wires immediately.

Another important project is the community garden. This initiative aims to grow vegetables for local consumption. Our lodge staff support this garden by purchasing its produce, creating a symbiotic relationship with the community. In addition, during the hunting season we share our game with the community, strengthening our bond with them.

Infrastructure support is another facet of our community initiatives. We repair boreholes for the community and our team of seven ensures that the community has consistent access to water. We also support local schools and clinics by providing essential supplies, and we take children on educational trips to familiarise them with the abundant wildlife resources we are blessed with.

He is good laugh and one of the best trackers in Zimbabwe

Tsumbei Nemabwe
Sango Community Manger

Sustainability is in Sango’s DNA. Can you give examples of how do you promote sustainable practices and responsible tourism?

Tsumbei: The community garden I mentioned is a proof of our long-term vision. We’ve consistently supported this project to ensure its sustainability. Similarly, our efforts in local schools, such as chair repairs in our carpentry shop, ensure that these facilities remain in good condition. We also invite students from local schools to Sango to learn more about the animals and our work. In essence, our sustainable practices are deeply intertwined with the well-being of our community.

What are your roots and what is your relationship to Sango?

Tsumbei: I was born 10 kilometers outside on the eastern border of Sango Wildlife Conservancy. As a child, I remember this region being a dry area, not receiving enough rain for sustainable agriculture. Due to these arid conditions, my parents decided to move further west, where the climate was more forgiving and rain was more frequent. I returned in 1994, and it’s been my home ever since.

Tsumbei on one of his School visits.

Given your extensive experiences since 1994, could you enlighten us on the transition from the early attempts at cattle ranching to the thriving wildlife sanctuary that Sango has become today?

Tsumbei: I remember that many years ago, when I was a child, there was an attempt to introduce cattle farming to the area. However, these efforts were thwarted by persistent droughts every year, which made cattle farming impractical. It was in 1993 that a transformational change took place. Mr. Pabst bought the former cattle ranch and established what we know today as Sango. 

By 1994 he had introduced game to the property. Despite the occasional droughts that have plagued the area, we’ve never seen a significant loss of wildlife. The animals have shown remarkable resilience even in the harshest of conditions. 

Today Sango is teeming with wildlife, from elephant to impala, and I feel a deep sense of gratitude. If Willy and the others hadn’t envisioned and realised Sango with their sustainable approach, we might not have had the privilege of witnessing the region’s current splendour.

Tsumbei taking some students from Uteke Primary School on an excursion to Sango.

Being part of the Sango family since ’94 is quite a journey! I’m curious, do you share this journey with a family?

Tsumbei: Yes, I do. Life has blessed me with four wonderful children – three sons and one daughter. So for me, Sango isn’t just a place to work; it’s a home, a memory, and a legacy.

Surrounded by such a rich wildlife diversity, do you have a personal favourite animal?

Tsumbei: Since I’ve been in Sango, my favourite animal is the buffalo. I have a deep admiration for them. They are incredibly social animals and their presence brings a unique dynamic to our region. Watching buffalo in their natural habitat is a real treat. They also play an important role in the ecology of the Sango. 

Funfact: Buffalo Gold

Did you know that the dung of the African buffalo (Syncerus caffer) plays a key role in Sango’s biodiversity? Buffalo dung is a food source for many insects, including beetles and other ground dwellers. These insects in turn attract birds and other wildlife in search of food. Buffalo dung also contributes to soil fertility by replenishing nutrients and encouraging plant growth. This seemingly simple process illustrates the interconnectedness and interdependence of ecosystems and how even dung plays a key role in Sango’s biodiversity.

For example, when they shed their droppings, a variety of creatures, from insects such as cockroaches and beetles to birds, are attracted to them for food. This seemingly small act on the part of the buffalo in turn provides an abundance of food for many species, including birds and more. Their dung becomes its own micro-ecosystem, feeding many.

The community garden I mentioned is a proof of our long-term vision.

What sets Sango apart for you, compared to other places?

Tsumbei: The uniqueness of Sango lies in its seven habitats. They range from plains, to swamps, to forests and acacia woodlands. These habitats are a haven for different species of animals and offer our guests an unparalleled experience. Each habitat provides a diverse and ever-changing experience for our visitors, with each habitat having its own unique species. It’s truly a unique treasure that our guests can’t find anywhere else.

Sango’s close ties with communities

  1. How is Sango empowering women in the community?
    Sango has a long history of women’s empowerment since our inception in 1993. We prioritise hiring women from the local community for key roles in property maintenance. Our aim goes beyond simply providing jobs – it’s about equipping these women with valuable skills, strengthening their independence and instilling a sense of pride in their work and contribution.
  2. What is it that makes the seven vegetation zones of Sango so unique?
    Sango’s vast landscape is a tapestry of seven distinct vegetation zones, each with its own unique flora and fauna. From plains and swamps to forests and acacia woodlands, this biodiversity ensures that guests experience a diverse and rich array of natural environments in just one visit. Thanks to this unique and diverse fauna, Sango provides the perfect habitat for wildlife over an area of 60,000 hectares (600 km2). This diverse landscape not only enriches our wildlife, but also provides visitors with a comprehensive insight into the wonders of nature.
  3. How does my stay at Sango benefit the local community?
    Each guest’s stay at Sango is about more than just luxury and relaxation in pristine wilderness. By choosing Sango, our guests contribute directly to the livelihood of our local community staff. The income generated helps to ensure that our staff, including the many women we’ve been committed to employing since our inception, receive a fair wage. By immersing themselves in the beauty of Sango, guests also support the welfare and betterment of our dedicated staff and their families.