Segera - January 2012

Feb 17, 2012 Segera Retreat
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Segera Tourism Construction
After much planning, site visits and sourcing materials, the construction team responsible for building the newly designed paddock house, wine tower, Rasul tower, spa/gym and additional villas, arrived at Segera with their earth-moving equipment on 31 January 2012. They wasted no time and in minutes the excavator started on the foundations for the new areas.

Quite a significant amount of the black cottonsoil needed removing - in some areas one needs to dig as deep as two metres to reach a stable rocky surface in which to lay the foundations. Using nature as its partner in the design process, additional rainwater harvesting tanks have been incorporated in the newly proposed buildings. In addition to the 300 000-litre tank already on site, there will be other similar tanks: one which can store up to 340 000 litres of water which will be stored under the paddock house and one will store around 60 000 litres under the wine tower.

As developments on the ground proceed at a steady pace, the rest of the team is working hard to get the interior elements ordered and on the road (or water) to reach Segera in time for the 1 July 2012 opening date.

The 4Cs Centre
With wonderful support and guidance from Mark Coetzee of PumaVision, the concept of the 4Cs Centre is moving along at a rapid pace. Defining what the centre should represent has certainly been a very interesting process, including consultations and the participation of the Zeitz Foundation. Much deliberation finally resulted in the decision to use it mainly as an orientation centre, a place of discovery where guests select the unique experiences available to them at Segera, where they come to understand its history and the exciting conservation, community, cultural and commercial activities that they can participate in.

Art at Segera
Apart from Father Christmas, December brought many other wonderful things to Segera. The excitement was tangible when the first shipment of commissioned art arrived. Many hours was spent positioning and repositioning the sculptures around the garden area, to make sure the best locations were selected for the incredible self-portraits of Nandipha Mntambo in her recreations of Caravaggio's painting of Narcissus gazing at his own reflection in a pond. In these pieces, she replaces Narcissus with herself as Zeus in bull form. In the bronze head-and-shoulders bust in the Renaissance tradition, she combines her own feminine features with those of Zeus disguised as a bull. Additional pieces include a magnificent David Brown and the much-sought-after Marlene Dumas.

The first staff members of the housekeeping team were employed in early December. Their main function is to maintain the existing tourism infrastructure. Of a total number of 10 staff, 6 are from different ethnic groups in the local neighbouring communities around Segera. The rest of the team employed are from further afield and bring with them specifically honed tourism skills that are passed on through an intensive internal training programme.

All employment processes at Segera are based on the key principles of fairness, honesty, positivity and creativity. The first step in the process is to contact the joint management committees who represent the neighbouring communities in the area. Segera provides them with job specifications and requirements, which they then follow up with recommendations of suitable candidates. In this way, all the communities in the surrounding areas have equal representation and a fair chance to increase employment opportunities amongst individuals.

Leopard Relocation
A true incident of human-wildlife conflict played off near Segera when a leopard was caught catching chickens from a local farmer. The owner of the chickens reported the leopard to Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) who subsequently set a trap and captured the animal. It was whilst the animal was in the custody of the KWS that Mark Jenkins, the Segera Ranch Manager, seized the opportunity to find a new home for the perceived problem animal: Segera!

As the KWS team arrived Segera more than 24 hours after it had been captured, we had to move quickly in order to prevent any further distress or dehydration of the animal. A specific location close to water and in the centre of Segera was chosen to release the leopard. Careful consideration was given to the fact that there was no recent evidence of resident leopard tracks or activity, avoiding immediate unnecessary behavioural pressures.

Unfortunately little time and no resources resulted in the animal not being collared upon its release, however we took enough time to record the necessary facial markings and spot patterns, which will assist with future identification of the individual. We feel that by taking this opportunity and acting swiftly, we not only strengthened our relationship with the local wildlife authority, but we also gave this predator a fighting chance of survival.

We are pleased to see that the local people are beginning to report these incidents to KWS rather taking action on their own. As has been the situation in the past, poisoning and other, often inhumane, means of problem animal control, largely determines the fate of these poor animals.

Other wildlife
We recently collected the first images off our camera traps and found, amongst others, what appears to be a white-tailed mongoose (bottom left image).

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