The Madikwe Game Reserve, situated against the Botswana border, 40km south-east of Gabarone, the capital of Botswana, 90 km north of Zeerust, just three hours' drive from both Johannesburg and Pretoria, is one of South Africa's prime safari destinations. Madikwe is a Big Five game reserve covering some 75,000 hectares. It is one of the largest game reserves in South Africa. The rich diversity of vegetation ensures a wide range of game and the topography offers ideal game viewing opportunities for wilderness safaris. Madikwe is also one of the few places where you can see the Brown Hyena and the Aardwolf, making it a special among the available south african safaris.
Madikwe is home to 66 mammal species including the Big Five and the very scarce Cheetah, Brown Hyena and even rarer Aaedwolf and approximately 300 resident and migrant bird species. It is one of South Africa's largest game reserves.
Madikwe has the distinction of being one of the few game reserves in the world to be proclaimed purely on the grounds of being the most appropriate and sustainable land use for an area. The fact that it has proved to be such a popular reserve, is an indication of its success as a wilderness safari.
Madikwe represents an extension to this philosophy in that it is run as a joint venture between the State, the private sector and local communities. The success of this approach has made Madikwe the role model for similar ventures being started up elsewhere in South Africa, offering more opportunities for more south african safaris.
The reserve consists of vast plains of open woodlands and grasslands, dissected by the rugged "Rant van Tweedepoort", and bordered in the south by the Dwarsberg Mountains. The area is dotted with huge rocky hills or inselbergs.
The entire reserve has been enclosed in a 150km perimeter fence which has been electrified to prevent the escape of elephants and the larger predators.
Guests are taken on conducted day and night wilderness safaris or bush walks. Excellent accommodation is available at various luxury private lodges in Madikwe. There are no day visitor facilities; only residents at a lodge may enter the reserve.
The reserve was announced to the public in August 1991 and officially became part of the Board's estate on 31 October the same year. The reserve was proclaimed after a detailed feasibility study of the area was conducted by independent consultants. The study showed that wildlife-based tourism was the most beneficial option for this remote and economically depressed area.
Madikwe represents an extension to this philosophy in that it is run as a joint venture between the State, the private sector and local communities. The success of this approach has made Madikwe the role model for similar ventures being started up elsewhere in South Africa.
Even before Madikwe had been officially proclaimed, work had begun to clear the many derelict farm buildings and structures, the hundreds of kilometres of old fencing and the many alien plants. Some of the buildings were spared and now serve as Park offices and workshops, while various outposts have been built to house game scouts and other reserve staff.
The reintroduction of game began early in 1991, shortly before the perimeter fence had been completed. Operation Phoenix, as the reintroduction programme is called, is one of the largest game translocation exercises in the world.
More than 8,000 animals of 28 species have been released into Madikwe Game Reserve, including elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion, cheetah, Cape hunting dog, spotted hyaena, giraffe, zebra and many species of antelope and herbivores. Leopard already occurred in the reserve.
Operation Phoenix began early in 1991 and was completed in 1997.
Madikwe functions through a system designed to benefit the three main stakeholders involved in the reserve. These are the North West Parks Board, the private sector and the local communities. All three work together in a mutually beneficial "partnership in conservation."
The Parks Board is responsible for setting up the necessary infrastructure and the management to run Madikwe as a major protected conservation area in the North West Province. It also identifies suitable sites within the reserve which are leased to the private sector for tourism-based developments and activities.
The private sector provides the necessary capital to build game lodges and to market and manage the lodges and the tourism activities in the reserve. In this way, private sector money, rather than state funds, is used to develop the tourism potential of the reserve.
rich diversity of vegetation ❈ a wide range of game ❈ luxurious lodges blending with nature