Madikwe Game Reserve
Where is Madikwe?
The 75 000ha Madikwe Game Reserve lies in the extreme northwest corner of South Africa’s North West province, abutting the Botswana border close to the Kalahari Desert.
A mere three-and-a-half-hour drive from Johannesburg or a quick charter flight from OR Tambo International Airport gets you there.
Why Madikwe was established
The land on which the Madikwe Game Reserve now stands was formerly dotted with cattle and maize farms that were showing poor returns due to the unsuitability of the soil.
Following an independent feasibility study, the government of the time made a decision to claim the land for wildlife-based tourism purposes more sustainable of the remote region.
How Madikwe is run
Madikwe Game Reserve operates as a three-way venture between the North West Parks and Tourism Board, the private sector, and local communities.
The Parks Board is responsible for setting up infrastructure and operational management, as well as identifying suitable sites for lease to the private sector for tourism-based developments and activities.
The private sector funds the construction of game lodges, which it then markets and manages. Lodge employees are drawn from surrounding villages.
The success of this approach has made Madikwe a role model for similar joint ventures in South Africa.
Access to Madikwe Game Reserve
Visitors to the park are required to book in at one of Madikwe’s numerous lodges, and no day visitors are permitted. Entry to the reserve is R50 per adult and R20 per pensioner and child.
Madikwe’s animal populations
Populating Madikwe with animals over a six-year period became one of the largest wildlife translocation projects in the world. Nicknamed Operation Phoenix, the task entailed capturing and transporting 8 000 animals representing 28 species from reserves elsewhere in the country to the North West province.
From 1991 to 1997, animals introduced to the region included elephant, rhino, buffalo, cheetah, spotted hyena, lion, giraffe, antelope, and the highly endangered Cape hunting dog.
Today, Madikwe boasts more than 60 mammal species including the Big Five (lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino and elephant) and well over 300 resident and migrant bird species.
Landscape and vegetation
The rich diversity of thorny scrub merging into savannah grassland is able to sustain a wide range of game, including a number of crossover species usually limited to one of the two environments.
The reserve is divided by Rant van Tweedepoort, a series of hills, and bordered in the south by the Dwarsberg Mountains. The Madikwe landscape also features inselbergs, isolated hills in an otherwise flat plot of land.
The Madikwe Game Reserve is enclosed by a 150-kilometre-long electrified fence to contain Madikwe’s elephant and lion populations.
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