Madikwe Game Reserve is the fifth largest game reserve in South Africa and lies on the Botswana border and the fringes of the Kalahari desert. It has a varied landscape of open plains, rugged cliffs and kopjes situated between the Marico River and Dwarsberg mountain range.
The land where Madikwe Game Reserve now stands was originally farm land but the poor soil meant that farming was mostly unsuccessful. The South African government made the decision that it would be beneficial to use the land to form a national park to help economically uplift the disadvantaged area. In 1991 the area was declared a reserve and animals were relocated from other National Parks. Operation Phoenix was one of the largest relocations of wildlife on earth by humans. More than 8000 animals were transported over a period of seven years for the purpose of establishing an economically viable wildlife sanctuary.
The African Elephant is the largest living terrestrial animal and is no stranger in Madikwe Game Reserve with a recent census putting the population at over 900. Due to the steep growth in the elephant population in Madikwe the density of elephant in the Reserve is higher than any other protected area in South Africa. Madikwe Game Reserve is home to both black and white rhino and there is a healthy population of buffalo numbering some 844 animals. Madikwe Game Reserve is now home to approximately 66 species of large mammals and roughly 300 bird species.
In the dry season between May and September at Madikwe, the vegetation is sparse and wildlife congregates around watering holes. During the wet season from October to April, the vegetation is dense and the wildlife is more dispersed.