The Madikwe Reserve is saturated in history and maintains the feeling of new discovery around every rock outcrop, grassy hill, and Acacia tree. The majestic Madikwe reserve is nestled between the southern border of Botswana and the Molatedi Dam in South Africa. It is named for the Marico River Basin that makes up the area. Local people had called this area home for thousands of years. Later, hunters, farmer, explorers, and adventure seekers traversed this region in the early 1800’s.
With other options available, it was decided by the government that the most practical use of the land that is now the Madikwe Reserve, be utilized for eco-tourism and conservation. Allowing the natural flora and fauna to take over again, the reserve became a positive upliftment of communities in the area. In 1991 it became an established reserve. Slowly, professional field researchers began reintroducing small herds of animals such as Cape Buffalo, Elephants, and Rhino. The reintroduction of predatorial animals was underway shortly after.
Once the perimeter fence had been completed in 1991, the reintroduction of game began. This relocation project was called Operation Phoenix. Coming together using a wealth of teamwork between private entities, the local communities, and the state roughly 8,200 animals were relocated here. This was the largest translocation project in history.
The Madikwe Reserve prides itself on the progress of the population of the near endangered Wild Dog. Due to human interference, rabies, and other diseases transmitted by its domestic canine cousin, these are one of South Africa’s most endangered creatures. Researchers are maintaining studies of the Wild Dogs’ positive progress so future generations are able to appreciate this amazing animal as well.
Now, the 75 000 hectares of land are considered home to the big five and other elusive species of animals. The Madikwe Reserve is a hidden gem, as it is not well known to the public. It is the fifth largest reserve in South Africa.