Madikwe Game Reserve’s primary objective differs somewhat to other Game Reserves, which focus primarily on wildlife and conservation. The Reserve is not solely a conservation area or a tourist destination; it is also a major social and economic hub.
Madikwe was established in the early 1990’s as a result of an economic analysis, which explored two land use options; Big Five ecotourism and extensive cattle farming. The outcome of this analysis was that area was most suited to wildlife tourism and this would lead to more employment opportunities than the agriculture options for which the area is suited.
The focus at Madikwe is to stimulate a three-way partnership between the state, the private sector and the local community in order to create ecologically sustainable economic activity for the benefit of the people of the region. The role of the private sector is to establish and manage a variety of tourism developments and activities within the reserve. In order to do this, private companies will pay the State concession fees. A portion of these fees is used by the state for conservation within the Reserve and the other portion is paid to local communities in order to fund a variety of community-based projects. Not only do the community benefit from the community-based projects, but also from the employment opportunities created in and around the Game Reserve.
This approach has often been referred to as community-based wildlife conservation, and is being considered as a viable development option in other developing countries. It is believed that community-based wildlife conservation offers the only long-term successful approach to wildlife conservation in Southern Africa, and perhaps the entire African continent.