In a place where nature plays an intricate design in the upkeep and growth of a land, there is also a need for life and death to play a complementary role in a lands existence. The Madikwe area is steeped in myth and legend and its cultural- pull dates back to the Stone Age and draws many tourists to its land. Madikwe Game Reserve is testimony to the preservation of a special wilderness area dedicated to one of the more remote areas in South Africa.
Located in the transitional zone between the bushveld ecological area of Southern Africa and the Kalahari thornveld region, it is home to an abundance of wildlife. This however, was not always the case. Operation Phoenix was one of the largest relocations of wildlife on earth by humans. More than 8000 animals were transported over a period of seven years for the purpose of establishing an economically viable wildlife sanctuary.
The reserve is currently divided into two prominent areas. North of Molatedi Dam is fenced and is home to indigenous wild animals, including the Big 5. Future developments should see the dam area fenced separately and stocked with smaller animals which depict less of a threat to tourists. This will allow visitors to use the dam area separately to the main reserve of Madikwe and will allow a free- flow of visitors without the threat of dangerous animals.
Today the park is home to the Big 5, which can even be extended to the ‘Super 7’, which includes the African Wild Dog and the Cheetah. More than 250 species of birds have been recorded in the park. For the visitor, the park is widely accessible and today boasts numerous lodges and camps to choose from. The visitor also plays a role in the sustainability and economic upkeep of the area. Investment and job creation in the area is a step forward towards creating new opportunities for businesses and eradicating poverty. This process has already been observed and Madikwe Game Reserve has become one of South Africa’s success stories. Placing people at the centre of conservation efforts is the number one priority when planning the development and constant improvement of the park.
A new development for Madikwe Game Reserve as well as the popular Pilanesberg National Park is the ‘Heritage Park’ conservation corridor; set to join the two parks. The project has been proposed to allow for a larger migration area thereby creating a prime eco- tourism destination. The proposed 2- year initiative will link up Botswana with the Limpopo province.