Back to the Wild

Returning to their Natural Environment

The Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve, now known as the Greater Makalali Pidwa Nature Reserve (GMPNR) after recently obtaining national private nature reserve status (final gazetting is imminent), is currently a 22,000 ha game reserve situated outside Gravelotte in the Limpopo Province. The reserve is bisected by the perennial Makhutswi River, a tributary of the Olifant’s River, and includes approximately 10 km of the Selati River frontage. The reserve comprises of seven like-minded owners who have retained ownership of their individual properties but have removed fences to create a Conservancy allowing the game to traverse the entire extent of the reserve. The first properties making up the reserve (originally 6,000 ha) were purchased in 1994 and the reserve has subsequently expanded to its current size of 22,000 ha. An additional 7,000 ha will be incorporated within the next 6-12 months. The reserve is now home to the Big 5, with previously extirpated species including lion, elephant, rhino, hippo, buffalo, cheetah and hyena being reintroduced. Leopard, brown hyena and the smaller mammal species as well as the endangered ground hornbill and the many threatened and endangered vulture and raptor species are present on the reserve.

In most cases, compromised wildlife are taken to rehabilitation centres, and where long-term care is needed (as in the case of orphan animals or animals with broken limbs etc.). Upon recovery, a ‘’hot” release straight back into the wild is not recommended or possible. Thus, once the animals have recovered from their ailments or have been weaned, suitable rewilding enclosures and facilities are needed. Of course, these must occur in the areas where the animals occur naturally, and should preferably be protected wildlife areas.

All too often, the animals remain in captivity within rehabilitation centres/veterinary surgeries for far longer than is necessary due to a lack of suitable release sites and facilities. Over the years, GMPNR have facilitated the release of a number of species from various centres on a small scale. With the funding assistance of the Humane Society International (HSI), the capacity for release within GMPNR has been greatly increased through the construction of 8 enclosures and 2 release camps. Thus, with the construction of these multi-purpose enclosures which suit a wide range of species, the turnaround time from rehabilitation to release is increased.

The GMPNR facilitates the last phase of the rehabilitation of wildlife cases by registered rehabilitation centres and vets, in a carefully managed slow-release process whereby the previously compromised animals are successfully released back to the wild.

Back to the Wild is dependent on donations for its existence. A donation of as little as $5 or ZAR50 feeds a caracal or serval 2 meals, or a bush baby for a week!

Nicci Wright releasing a Cape Clawless Otter onto the Greater Makalali
Private Game Reserve


We are so grateful for all of our donors and sponsors . The work the we conduct often requires replacement & updating of resources and equipment. We recently lost our Bushnell Cell Cam to a Hyena and urgently need to replace it.  Please contact us if you would like to donate funding or equipment and sponsor us in any way. Here is our Research Wishlist