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The Madikwe Reserve protects the Big Five, and, thanks to Operation Phoenix, a mammal relocation programme that has enjoyed great success, the area now has a diverse mammal population.
Located in the country’s North West Province of, Madikwe is unique thanks to its position on the edge of the Kalahari Desert. It’s a haven for birdwatchers with over 350 different bird species recorded.
One of the park’s biggest attractions is the Big Five - lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino. These animals are all mostly protected and live in the reserve in fairly large numbers.
Making this even more special is the addition of Cheetah and Wild Dog to the Big Five to make the Super Seven. Cheetah and Wild Dog are amongst the most endangered predators on the continent, and the wild dogs in particular are specialists in this area. These are Africa’s most formidable hunters, and also one of the most endangered, so the chance to see them, especially in the wild, is a very rare treat.
These ‘exciting’ animals aside, many types of mongoose including the dwarf, banded and Selous’ mongooses make the park their home, as well as some of the smaller and less well known, but just as exciting animals like honey badgers, genets and Cape clawless otters. These, however, are just a few of the many that are present. Many antelope are also present, with the impala, springbok and duiker providing a prelude to the more majestic kudu, eland and tsessebe.
Of the birds, many raptors and eagles are present in the park, with martial eagles, blackbreasted snake eagles and kori bustards amongst these. Ostrich are also common, as well as the more colourful indigenous birds such as plum coloured starlings and marico flycatchers.
Madikwe Reserve has a mixture of habitats, from plains and acacia woodlands, to rich floodplains and hills studded with boulders. The scenery is stunning especially at sunset, when you can sit sipping sundowners as the sky is painted a breathtaking mix of pinks, golds, reds and oranges, highlighting the beauty of the land beneath by creating a stark contrast to the drier areas, or reflecting in pools of water and blurring the boundary between land and horizon.