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MMadikwe Game Reserve, one of South Africa’s foremost Big Five malaria-free reserves, was envisaged not by conservationists, but by economists. They found conservation would create more income and jobs than the existing land-use, which was cattle-farming. This successful reserve is now a model that has inspired South African conservation.
Madikwe Game Reserve, right up against the Botswana border in the North West province, is a strange anomaly in the world of conservation.
It was transformed from a number of low-yield cattle farms into a high-yield conservation area. This was not land chosen by ecologists for its rare vegetation or animals. It was chosen by economists because they found that a game reserve here would generate more jobs and money than any other land-use option. Madikwe is now a model of the way conservation can benefit communities.
Another remarkable factor is that this was pioneered in 1991, within one of South Africa’s apartheid-era Bantustans – Bophuthatswana – which was reintegrated into the country in 1994.