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One of South Africa’s premier game-viewing destinations, the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve is home to the “Big 5” (lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino and leopard), the rare African wild dog (called “Makanyane” in the Tswana language) as well as cheetah, giraffe, hyena, and a host of other game species. The birdlife is also spectacular, with over 360 bird species being found in the reserve. This beautiful and diverse African wilderness encompasses 75,000 hectares of widely varying terrain. From rocky peaks, across open grasslands, to verdant valleys, each area, with its own distinctive inhabitants, provides visitors with an unforgettable safari experience. Ideally situated in South Africa’s North West Province, access to the reserve is simple and direct, a mere 3.5 hour drive or 45 minute flight from Johannesburg and Pretoria.

Established in 1991, Madikwe Game Reserve was 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 for cattle farming and agriculture. However over the decades, much of the vegetation had been extensively degraded and the outlook for the area was pessimistic. A land feasibility study was carried out and it was found that wildlife based tourism would be the most viable (both economically and environmentally) form of land use in the region.

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

In order to establish Madikwe as a premier wildlife destination, an ambitious wildlife reintroduction programme, called Operation Phoenix, was initiated. Operation Phoenix remains the largest game translocation and re-introduction programme to have taken place in the world to date.

Over a period of seven years, ten thousand animals were relocated into Madikwe, 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, giraffe, zebra and a host of antelope species.

The result is that Madikwe is more than just an incredible malaria-free safari destination, it is an internationally significant conservation initiative.