Exploring the Wild Landscape of Madikwe
Located in the North West Province of South Africa, on the border of Botswana, the 75,000 hectare Madikwe Game Reserve is home to 66 mammal species, including the famed “Big Five” of Africa – lion, elephant, buffalo, rhinoceros and leopard. More than 300 bird species, both resident and migrant, have been sighted and recorded at Madikwe Game Reserve, including many magnificent raptors.
Madikwe Game Reserve is about a three-hour drive away from Johannesburg and Pretoria, making it easily accessible to South Africans and visiting tourists alike. There is also an air-strip to accommodate the daily air shuttle between O.R. Tambo International Airport and the reserve. The rich diversity of vegetation and terrain supports a wide range of game and offers a host of superb game and bird viewing sites. Vast plains of grasslands and open woodlands, with the rugged Rant van Tweedepoort cutting through them, are bordered in the south by the Dwarsberg Mountains. For the safety of humans and animals alike, the entire reserve is enclosed by an electric perimeter fence of more than 150 kilometers in length. There are numerous private lodges situated within the reserve, which offer accommodation to suit all budgets.
One of the world’s largest game translocation exercises – Operation Phoenix – which took place from 1991 to 1997, resulted in over 8,000 animals from 28 species being successfully released into the Madikwe Game Reserve. Animals that benefited from this operation include elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo, giraffe, spotted hyena, Cape hunting dog, antelope and other herbivores.
The Madikwe Game Reserve bears testimony to the ongoing success of its conservation policies which aim to preserve this unique, remote wilderness area of Kalahari thornveld. Visitors can embrace the true spirit of wilderness Africa when they enter the Madikwe Game Reserve, where every plant, insect and animal is an indispensable part of this near-perfect ecological environment. Day and night game drives in open safari vehicles and guided by experienced and knowledgeable rangers are an integral part of a visit to Madikwe Game Reserve. Visitors can be on the lookout for elephant, buffalo, hippopotamus, black and white rhinoceros, African wild cat, caracal, cheetah, leopard, lion, serval, aardwolf, bat-eared fox, black-backed jackal, brown hyena, spotted hyena, Cape fox, wild dog, African civet, banded mongoose, yellow mongoose, Cape clawless otter, honey badger, large spotted genet, striped polecat, striped weasel, blesbok, blue wildebeest, bushbuck, duiker, eland, gemsbok, impala, klipspringer, kudu, mountain reedbuck, red hartebeest, springbok, tsessebe, waterbuck, bushpig, warthog, baboon, vervet monkey, aardvark, zebra, rock hyrax, Cape pangolin, scrub hare, Cape hare, porcupine, ground and tree squirrels. The extensive list of birds that birding enthusiasts can look out for include the ostrich, secretarybird, Cape, lappetfaced and whitebacked vulture, martial eagle, bateleur, African finfoot, kori bustard, Namaqua and yellow-throated sandgrouse, crimson-breasted shrike and the greater honeyguide.
Future plans include the development of a conservation corridor to join Madikwe to the Pilanesberg conservation area. This will allow for the migration of animals and enhance the eco-tourism value of South Africa’s North West Province. Certainly, if you want to take a walk on the wild side, the Madikwe Game Reserve is the place to do just that.