ONE OF THE LARGEST GAME RESERVES IN SOUTH AFRICA
The malaria free Madikwe Game Reserve is a wilderness haven
Madikwe Game Reserve is about 75 000 hectares of bushland stretching all the way up to the Botswana border, and is one the largest and most popular game reserves in South Africa.
Once farm land (up until 1991), the Reserve has now been restored to its former natural environment with 86 mammals (from mice to elephant), 420 bird species (110 being rare) and 104 tree species.
Predominantly grasslands and bushveld, intermingled with lone mountains and rocky outcrops, the Reserve is home to cheetahs, wild dogs, leopards, hyenas, lion, elephant, black & white rhino, buffalo, zebra, giraffe and various antelope.
HISTORY & PHILOSOPHY
The Madikwe Game Reserve, which is a malaria free area boasting the “Big Five”, is the North West Province’s most extensive conservation area, being over 60 000 hectares in extent. Another 15 000 hectares lie south of the Dwarsberg, although this area is currently not connected to the main Reserve. Development of the Reserve and reintroduction of game began in 1991.
Madikwe is unusual in many respects. The rich diversity of the vegetation in the Reserve is a reflection of its complex geomorphology. The vegetation, hydrology, topography, climate, soil and other factors such as the previous farming activities in the area, have a direct bearing on the varied fauna present in the Reserve. The unusual variety of fauna range from Impala in the bushveld areas, Gemsbok in the dry savannah sections, Bush buck along the Marico (Madikwe) River and species such as Klipspringer and Mountain reedbuck that prefer the various rocky outcrops and mountainous regions.
Madikwe’s Operation Phoenix is the code name for the largest reintroduction of game (10 000 large mammals) undertaken by man in any Game Reserve in Africa. During the early 1990’s, the relocation of entire breeding herds of elephant, various antelope species, buffalo, black and white rhino, zebra and more recently lion, cheetah, spotted hyaena and endangered wild dog have increased the large mammal population to over 16 000. Some species such as kudu and leopards occurred naturally in the area; in fact the Dwarsberg kudu bulls are reputed to have the most spectacular horns in the country.
The area is also rich in cultural history reflecting times of turmoil and peace.
From the centre of the Dwarsberg range through to Derdepoort runs the famous Mafeking Road (now spelt Mafikeng), which during the 19th century was the main road Northwards from Cape Town to Bulawayo. Many explorers, traders, hunters, missionaries and of course Mzilikazi and his followers passed this way during the making of South African History.
Herman Charles Bosman lived among and wrote about the inhabitants of this area, also travelling along this road. You can easily visualise his Oom Schalk Lourens sitting under a Karee boom, contemplating the finer points of life, or recovering from some of the alcoholic delights of its berries. A visit to the historical town of Groot Marico, featured in Bosman’s stories, is essential if only to sample his infamous “Mampoer”, a locally made alcoholic beverage, and to meet its hospitable inhabitants.
A dilapidated Jesuit Mission Station steeped in history and now in need of restoration work can also be found along the Mafeking Road within the Madikwe Reserve.
The Dwarsberg Mountain range geologically related to the Magaliesberg range, forming the southern boundary of the Reserve, runs from east to west. This range has been drastically eroded; with Brandwacht in the highest point in the Dwarsberg range within the Reserve, reaching only 1228 metres, with a slightly higher peak of 1250 metres situated to the west of Brandwacht on the Reserve’s border.
Northwards into the Reserve an undulation plateau covered in dense bushveld vegetation suddenly drops away at the Tweedepoort escarpment to a lower flat savannah plain. Scattered inselbergs dot this savannah bringing relief to an otherwise flat area. The Tshwene Tshwene group of hills, more or less in the centre of the park reach 1326 metres, making it the highest point in the Reserve.
The Molatedi Gate on the eastern boundary is close to Lotteringskop, and the entrance gate on the western side has a good view of Abjaterskop which at 1144 metres and 1377 metres respectively, are both landmarks referred to later.
Madikwe Game Reserve is managed by the North West Parks and Tourism Board (NWPB). NWPB are responsible for all ecological management with the focus on restoring Madikwe to its former state and with overview to enhancing the visitor’s experience. VIEW MORE