From a low-yield cattle farm to a flourishing conservation area, Madikwe National Park is a land of bushveld and grassland, sloping mountains and rocky outcrops. Brushing against Botswana’s border and the tip of the Kalahari Desert, the park has not only provided a haven for wildlife including the Big 5, but has also been a fierce proponent of community upliftment initiatives.
The South African government manages the reserve’s land and wildlife while the private sector profits from the lodges that in turn employ locals from the surrounding area. The 75,000ha park boasts roughly 10,000 mammals and 300 bird species that were relocated to the malaria-free park once the farmland was restored to its natural, prospering environment.
The reserve is home to cheetah, hyena, giraffe, zebra, and antelope as well as the afore-mentioned Big 5. Three packs of endangered African wild dog roam across its vast plains, indulging photographers and allowing for close encounters. The reserve’s inhabitants have become used to game-viewing vehicles and often wander nonchalantly past appreciative wildlife enthusiasts. Game guides head off the road and tackle the terrain to get visitors closer to lions napping in the shade of thorn trees or cut their engines so that passengers can marvel at passing herds of buffalo.
- Madikwe National Park started with the initiative to rehabilitate the land and uplift the community
- The reserve is home to cheetah, hyena, giraffe, zebra, antelope as well as the Big 5
- Three packs of endangered African wild dog roam and hunt along Madikwe’s plains, spoiling photographers and safari-goers with close encounters
- The animals have become used to the game vehicles, either venturing closer or completely ignoring gobsmacked guests
- Home to approximately 10,000 mammals and 300 different bird species