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The primary objective of the Madikwe Game Reserve is to stimulate ecologically sustainable economic activity in the area, thereby benefiting the local communities through employment and business opportunities. A direct result of this objective is the conservation of biodiversity in the area.

Often referred to as community-based wildlife conservation, as a result of the success of the Madikwe reserve, this concept is now being considered as a viable development option in many other developing countries.


Makanyane Safari Lodge actively supports the local communities in the area. The majority of our staff are Tswana people from the local communities and tourism is therefore helping give them employment and advancement opportunities and an exciting and varied livelihood.

Guests at the lodge can actively participate, either financially or practically, in assisting impoverished local communities, thereby also supporting the Madikwe Game Reserve. The Makanyane Children’s Tree-planting Campaign is part of our programme where children and their parents are involved in planting saplings in the reserve.

Makanyane sponsors and supports anti-poaching and rhino conservation initiatives in Madikwe Game Reserve. Guests are given the opportunity to give back to wildlife conservation while enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime experience interacting with wildlife. Guests can accompany Madikwe Game Reserve conservation and veterinary staff during various conservation activities such as rhino darting (in order to insert micro-chips into their horns or put identification notches into their ears) or to lion darting (for contraception purposes).

All in-house systems at the lodge are developed and maintained to have the least possible amount of impact on the environment. Where-ever possible, only environmentally-friendly and recyclable products are used, all refuse is sorted and recycled, being collected by a local contractor (another business opportunity afforded by the reserve and supported by the lodge) and taken to a recycling hub for the reserve, from where its collected by various recycling industries. All of our water is recycled directly back into the environment by use of a filtration plant and wetland system. All detergents and repellents used are environmentally friendly and biodegradable.

Established in 1991, the Madikwe Game Reserve has been developed as a three-way partnership between the South African government, local communities and the private sector. Prior to the establishment of the park, the region was used principally for cattle farming and agriculture. However, over the decades, much of the agricultural potential had been extensively degraded and the economic outlook for the area was pessimistic. A land feasibility study carried out found that wildlife-based tourism would be the most economically and environmentally viable form of land use in the region.

As a result, Madikwe was formed by the governmental Parks and Tourism Board, who also stocked and now manages the reserve. The role of the private sector has been to develop and operate viable tourism products within the reserve. In addition to supplying the Parks and Tourism Board with concession fees to operate in the reserve, these tourism products provide employment for local community members and support a number of local industries established to cater to the product’s requirements. This ideal partnership works to the advantage of all the parties involved, providing much needed economic stimulation in the area. Visitors to Madikwe also play a vital role by ensuring that the partnership continues successfully and poverty in the area is eradicated.

Apart from the significant social and economic benefits, Madikwe is now recognised as one of the premier destinations in South Africa to experience a “Big 5” safari as well as having the advantage of being malaria-free. In order to establish Madikwe Game Reserve as an ideal wildlife sanctuary, an ambitious game reintroduction programme, called Operation Phoenix, was initiated. Operation Phoenix is the largest wildlife translocation and re-introduction programme to have taken place in the world to date. More than eight thousand animals were relocated into the reserve over a period of seven years, with twenty seven species, all historically occurring in the area, being released into the reserve. These species include lion, elephant, buffalo, black and white rhino, wild dog, cheetah, giraffe, zebra and a host of antelope species.

Now well-established and thriving, the reserve still plays host to many ongoing research and conservation projects which contribute significantly to conservation initiatives worldwide. Examples of this include the ongoing research into the successful reintroduction of predators, including the critically endangered wild dog, into a wildlife habitat, the spatial arrangement of many species once relocated and the impact of browsers on encroaching vegetation.