There’s something beautiful about a name that is so much more than just a name; but which describes its subject with a deeper meaning and purpose. In the Zulu culture, names often denote a more heartfelt and sentimental meaning; either as encouragement or aspirations for the individual’s future or a recollection of a family experience. Sometimes the religion, politics and even the weather can play a part in the naming process.

In the wild, the same process applies. And we think it’s a beautiful one. While cruising along the terrain in a game viewer, with the wind in your hair and wild horizons in your eyes, you will often hear the exchange of foreign, seemingly sacred sounding words being gargled through radios or spoken between game rangers.

Indlovu approaching. Ngonyama on the horizon. Ingwe tracks. Caution…Ubhejane on the water’s edge.

What you are hearing is a legacy from years gone by, where rangers and locals continue to name animals based on their nature and first impressions. It’s a common language here at Nambiti Hills Private Game Lodge; a secret language spoken by our rangers and used to communicate with each other over radio. Think of it as the Morse Code of the wild African outback.

Here’s a few examples of our favourite animals and their traditional names:

Indlovu, which translates to “the forceful one” based on the way they march through the bushes, mowing down tress and foliage in their path.

Ngonyama, meaning “the master of all flesh.” No explanation needed here for our mighty King of the Jungle.

Ingwe, or “pure kingship” as this gracious cat is considered to be of noble decent.

Mpisi, these little scavengers are also referred to as “the cleaners.”

Indlulamithi, or “above the trees” talks of long necks and elongated views.

Imvubu, which means “to mix.” It was believed that Hippos were at one point in their existence, confused as to whether they were Rhinos or Horses. Perhaps they settled on half of each.

Ubhejane, which translates to “the vicious one” given that they are one of the most feared of the Big 5.

Cape Buffalo
Inyathi, meaning “to eat” due to the fact that these beastly vegetarians are only ever seen grazing.

What’s in a name, you ask? Well, just like everything else here at Nambiti Hills Private Game Reserve… so much more!


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Embrace nature in the comfort of a 5-star sanctuary in the heart of Africa. Nambiti Hills Private Game Lodge is situated on a prime sector of the Nambiti Private Game Reserve and offers visitors an unforgettable, personal retreat with all the indulgences. Prepare to be whisked away from the stresses of a routine lifestyle and be welcomed by the tranquil serenity of nature at its finest.

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