Madikwe is a Big Five game reserve covering some 75,000 hectares and is currently the fifth largest game reserve in South Africa. The reserve was opened in 1991 and was part of the biggest game relocation programme ever staged. Operation Phoenix took place over six years and involved moving more than 8 000 animals into the Madikwe Game Reserve.
The reserve contains all the big five species – lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros, but it is the prevalence of cheetah and wild dog that has given the reserve its special reputation for the ‘Super Seven’. There are of course many other species within the reserve, including almost all antelope species as well as some 350 recorded bird species.
Madikwe also features a number of successful community-owned lodges, which are maintained by members of the local community. The lodges create employment and benefit local businesses, and all profits made are fed back into the community. Molori Safari is also involved in working with local communities, educating the youth about conservation and the importance of sustainable biodiversity for Africa.
Madikwe is an area rich in heritage. It was named after the Madikwe or Marico River, and the nearby town, Groot Marico, is named after the river. Groot Marico was formed by the Voortrekkers in the 1850s but only proclaimed in 1948. Legendary South Africa writer Herman Charles Bosman made the area famous, often writing about Marico in his books, saying the area bore “the authentic stamp of South Africa”.
Mafikeng Road, the name of an historical road built in 1899 that runs right through Madikwe, is also the title of one of Bosman’s books, featuring a collection of short stories about a land populated with leopards and bluegum trees.