Return of the Wild: In the Largest, Most Ambitious Exercise of Its Kind Ever to Be Undertaken, 8,000 Animals from 27 Mammal Species Have Been Reintroduced into Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa's North-West Province. but as Well as Returning This Former Farmland to Its Natural State, 'Operation Phoenix' Is Also Helping to Provide a Future for the Local Communities

By Grylls, Clive | Geographical, December 2006 | Go to article overview

Return of the Wild: In the Largest, Most Ambitious Exercise of Its Kind Ever to Be Undertaken, 8,000 Animals from 27 Mammal Species Have Been Reintroduced into Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa's North-West Province. but as Well as Returning This Former Farmland to Its Natural State, 'Operation Phoenix' Is Also Helping to Provide a Future for the Local Communities


Grylls, Clive, Geographical


Flying over Madikwe Game Reserve. the ground below is a mosaic of russet, green and golden hues. vibrant in the slanted rays of the setting sun. To our right, a herd of elephants wallows in the mud on the fringe of a waterhole. As we circle the runway, a lone male giraffe gives us clearance to land, ambling off the Tarmac to nibble contentedly on the foliage of an acacia tree.

Once on the ground, I'm met by William Stephens, the proprietor of Madikwe Investments. On the way to one of his lodges, Madikwe Hills, he fills me in on the history of the 55,000-hectare reserve, which is located in South Africa's North-West province. "Prior to the reserve's establishment, this whole region consisted of degraded cattle farms that had been expropriated from white farmers," he tells me. "Under the apartheid system the farms had, in turn, displaced whole communities of tribal groups from their traditional homelands. Most of the wildlife found in the region had long since been hunted out, and the whole area was an economic backwater."

In 1991, the local government, acting on an independent feasibility study, decided that, rather than return the land to the tribal groups, their economic future would be better served by turning the area into a game reserve. The North West Parks Board--a world-renowned organisation famed for its pioneering approach to people-based wildlife conservation--was appointed to deliver a development plan in partnership with the private sector and the local communities.

The parks board's role was to manage and restock the reserve with wildlife. Lucrative leasehold agreements were used to encourage the private sector to develop lodges and infrastructure to facilitate the growth of tourism in the area. The local communities would benefit from the new jobs created and the skills learnt, and income from the leaseholds would be used by the board to finance further restocking and to set up local community projects.

Rising from the ashes

Today, as the result of a programme called 'Operation Phoenix', the venture has successfully reintroduced more than 8,000 animals from 27 mammal species--the largest exercise of its kind ever to be undertaken.

The mammals reintroduced include whole families of elephants, disease-free buffalo, black and white rhino, and most of the hoofed and ungulate species found in Southern Africa, including the valuable sable. Disease-free lions were brought in from Etosha National Park in Namibia. Their population has now tripled, and remains one of the only stocks in Africa to be free of tuberculosis and feline AIDS. So successful have they been that several animals from these prides have now been reintroduced to other conservation areas.

Cheetahs and spotted hyenas were also introduced from other parts of South Africa, while leopards and endangered brown hyenas were already present in the area, although in greatly reduced numbers. However, it was the successful reintroduction of the African wild dog, one of Africa's most charismatic and endangered predators that has brought the venture the most plaudits (see The African wild dog).

The restocking took place over a period of seven years, and initially concentrated on introducing large numbers of herbivores, particularly impala, blue wildebeest and zebra. The predators were only introduced once a viable prey base had been established.

After release, individuals from some of the more valuable species, such as elephants, lions, rhinos and sable, were radio-collared to allow their movements to be monitored and to see which parts of the reserve they were utilising.

Steven Dell was appointed field ecologist of the reserve in 2000, a year after the completion of the restocking programme. "You have to remember that the Madikwe project was an economic model designed to generate a better income for the area, and this relied on providing good game sightings to attract tourism to the area," he tells me. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Return of the Wild: In the Largest, Most Ambitious Exercise of Its Kind Ever to Be Undertaken, 8,000 Animals from 27 Mammal Species Have Been Reintroduced into Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa's North-West Province. but as Well as Returning This Former Farmland to Its Natural State, 'Operation Phoenix' Is Also Helping to Provide a Future for the Local Communities
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.