Madikwe Game Reserve.

The Madikwe Game Reserve emerged in a rather obtuse manner. In 1986 the Molatedi dam was constructed. However, mainly due to isolation from the markets, its potential was never realised by the surrounding farmers, whether black small landholders, or white commercial producers. Indeed, the farms of many of the surrounding white farmers had been expropriated to form what became known as the Marico Corridor, an attempt to consolidate the impossibly fragmented homeland of Bophuthatswana. It was recommended  that optimal use of the dam, could be achieved by the development of a major wildlife-based ecotourism destination which incorporated the "big five"–lion elephant, buffalo, and leopard. Part of the rationale for this was that the game reserve would generate at least 1,200 jobs and inject R7 million into the local economy.

Map showing Mafikeng, Lichtenburg & Zeerust.
The Park, which lies about 80 kilometres north of Zeerust, and close to Gabarone, the capital of Botswana, was formed in 1991. As this was state owned land, it did not involve the removal of people from their homes.  The Park comprises 75 thousand hectares, which had previously been what was described as "degraded cattle farms". The local community comprised the villages of Lekgophung, Supingstad and Molatedi. Livestock was the main means of their subsistence, but a survey revealed that 50% of households owned no stock at all, and it was confined to a small minority who owned about 100 head of cattle each. The Madikwe Park was run by the Bophuthatswana National Parks, but is now under the control of the North West Parks and Tourist Board (NWPTB).
 From its inception the Madikwe Park presented itself as being " world-renowned for its people-based approach to conservation", in the belief that " local communities and individuals must benefit significantly from wildlife conservation and related activities".[1] The Park was thus formed on the basis that it was three-way partnership between the state, local communities and the private sector. The private sector would  manage and develop tourism initiatives and activities in the Park, while local communities were to be financially assisted, from the funds generated by the Park, to establish community based projects. In this way the Park would act as a  focus fr the economic development of the region.. This approach, it should be noted, is part of a people based conservation philosophy that has become the guiding principle for conservation in Africa generally.
The Park has been especially successful at wildlife re-introduction, which has seen the largest translocation of game to have ever occurred in the world. By 1996, more than 8 000 animals, belonging to 25 species were released into the reserve.  A highlight of this programme has been the re-introduction of the African wild dog.

[1] R. Davies and M. Brett (eds.), Madikwe Game Reserve: A Decade of Progress, 2003, Preface.

South Africa's North-West province: A Guide to its History and Heritage. © 2017

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