Attractions / North West Province / Wildlife Encounters

The Big 5 Madikwe Game Reserve

Updated Thursday, 10 January 2019

The Big 5 Madikwe Game Reserve, consisting of reclaimed farm land, is famous for the ambitious re-stocking program “Operation Phoenix” and is now home to the big five and is famous for its wild dog and spotted hyena. The Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa has the distinction of being one of the few game reserves in the world to be proclaimed purely on the grounds of being the most appropriate and sustainable land use for an area.

Madikwe consists of vast plains of open woodlands and grasslands and bordered in the south by the Dwarsberg Mountains. The area is dotted with huge rocky hills or inselbergs (ecological description). The entire Madikwe reserve has been enclosed in a 150 km perimeter fence which has been electrified to prevent the escape of elephants and the larger predators.

Madikwe Game Reserve

Madikwe is a “Big Five” game reserve situated 90 km north of Zeerust. Covering some 60 000 hectare, it is one of the largest game reserves in South Africa. The rich diversity of vegetation ensures a wide range of game and the topography offers ideal game viewing opportunities.

The reserve at Madikwe is divided into two main areas. The area north of the Molatedi Dam is fenced and stocked with all the historically indigenous wild animals ­ including elephant, rhinoceros, lion, leopard and buffalo. As part of future developments for the park, the dam area will be fenced separately and stocked with smaller, non dangerous animals, thus allowing free movement of tourists and maximum utilisation of the dam.

Giraffe in Madikwe Game Reserve

The reintroduction of game began early in 1991, shortly before the perimeter fence had been completed. Operation Phoenix, as the reintroduction programme is called, is the largest game translocation exercise in the world. More than 8 000 animals of 28 species have so far been released into the reserve, including elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion, cheetah, Cape hunting dog, spotted hyena, giraffe, zebra and many species of antelope and herbivores. Leopard already occurred in the reserve.

Useful Links – For more information please see: