A Plethora of Animals
Where rugged landscapes soften to the blush of the African dawn. The malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve is a 75 000 ha region of untamed beauty. A natural splendour located in South Africa’s North West province. This wild terrain boasts a tapestry of awe-inspiring landscapes that encompass vast open plains, dense bushveld and towering rocky peaks. All of which offers sanctuary to a kaleidoscope of creatures, including the ‘super seven’.
Prior to 1991, the area where Madikwe Game Reserve is today consisted largely of degraded cattle farms. As the area was not running efficiently, Settlement Planning Services commissioned a feasibility study to establish the best use of this land. The study showed that the development of wildlife-based tourism in the area the creation of a game reserve would be most beneficial to local communities. What followed was the largest translocation project in the world – Operation Phoenix.
Over a period of seven years, Operation Phoenix reintroduced more than 8,000 animals of 28 species into the newly established Madikwe Game Reserve. The project achieved a number of world-firsts with entire herds of elephant being relocated and the reintroduction of African wild dog into a fenced reserve.
Operation Phoenix is world renowned as the largest and most successful reintroduction programme to date. In fact, it has been so successful that Madikwe is able to sell wildlife to donate and sell some of its wildlife to other Southern African Parks. Another result has been the establishment of Madikwe’s prosperous wild dog breeding programme.
The evidence of this translocation project is very clear to visitors of the park today. Madikwe appears to have been a wildlife rich reserve for centuries, however this is all the result of Operation Phoenix. This project is an ongoing effort with 5 cheetah and 25 gemsbok being introduced into the park in 2012.
Madikwe’s rich cultural history began almost one million years ago and is as much a part of the Reserve as the wildlife and other natural wonders in the area. Historical sites containing irreplaceable artifacts are in abundance and in time will be restored and displayed as part of South Africa’s heritage.