The richly diverse malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve is one of South Africa’s greatest wildlife sanctuaries. This impressive 76 000h Reserve is situated in the historic North West province, with close proximity to the South Africa / Botswana border. Madikwe is famed for Operation Phoenix, the world’s largest game translocation exercise with the successful introduction of more than 8 000 animals of 28 species, including lion, elephant, buffalo and black and white rhino.
Madikwe’s diverse geology and broad mix of habitats allows a wide range of African wildlife to flourish. This Reserve boasts the “Super Seven” - adding cheetah and a thriving population of endangered African Wild Dog to the already famous Big 5. Also home to spotted and brown hyena and a rich biodiversity of mammals, from mountain reedbuck, sable and eland to zebra, Madikwe makes for a very rewarding game viewing experience.
Positioned at the ecological junction between the bushveld and the Kalahari, Madikwe comprises five distinct habitats, which are home to an array of African animals. Large numbers of elephant, giraffe and impala occur alongside oryx, springbok and red hartebeest. The Reserve boasts over 350 bird species, including several Kalahari species.
The Madikwe region is also imbued in history. It has been the passage of Mzilikazi (Ndebele warrior) and a range of explorers, traders, hunters and missionaries, including Dr David Livingstone and Sir Cornwallis Harris (an army officer, poet, author, hunter and wildlife artist).
Weather: Hot, wet summers and cool to dry winters
Rainfall : September to March
Temperature: Daytime temperatures in summer (October - March) are high and comfortable. Winter (May to August) is known to produce beautiful warm days, though the evenings and early mornings can be quite chilly.
Game: Madikwe is a big 5 game reserve including elephant, black and white rhino, leopard and lion and is renowned for its wild dog population. It also has over 350 different species of birds.
The 75 000-hectare Madikwe Game Reserve is located in the North West Province of South Africa. Prior to its establishment in 1991, most of the land consisted of cattle farms. Since 1991, the park has undergone an intensive phase of development as a premier game reserve and this included an extensive restocking programme with game species that historically occurred in the region. Madikwe is managed by the North West Parks and Tourism Board (NWPTB), which was formerly the Bophuthatswana National Parks, a conservation organisation that is world-renowned for its pioneering approach to people-based wildlife conservation which it has practised since the late 1970s.
Unlike almost all state-owned game reserves in Africa, the approach towards conservation that has been adopted at Madikwe puts the needs of people before that of wildlife and conservation. It is believed by the Board that if conservation is to succeed in developing countries such as South Africa, then local communities and individuals must benefit significantly from wildlife conservation and related activities. If local communities and the region as a whole can benefit through jobs and business opportunities that are created or generated, then firm support for protected areas will be achieved and important conservation objectives will be met almost as a secondary or spin-off benefit.
Madikwe is run as a three-way partnership between the state (represented by the Board), local communities and the private sector. Without doubt, it is the private sector on which the entire project ultimately depends. The private sector develops and manages a variety of tourism developments and activities in the park. A portion of the revenue generated is paid to the Board in concession fees. These concession fees are used partly to maintain the conservation infrastructure and game stocks in the park, which underpin the private sector’s investments and operations. A portion of the concession fees is also paid to local communities to help finance a variety of community-based development projects. In addition to community projects, communities also benefit from jobs and business opportunities that are created both within and outside the park. This in turn further stimulates the local and regional economy.
It is strongly believed that the approach being practised in Madikwe will have significant beneficial impacts on both local and regional economies, as well as greatly contribute towards the overall improvement in the quality of life of largely disadvantaged, rural communities. People-based wildlife conservation, therefore, should be considered as a viable development option elsewhere in South Africa and in developing countries in general. It is particularly relevant in rural areas where development options are often very limited. In this respect, it is believed that people-based conservation offers the only long-term successful approach to wildlife conservation in South and southern Africa and the continent of Africa as a whole.