Karongwe Private Game Reserve
Situated in the Central Lowveld region of the Limpopo Province of South Africa, you will find a 8500 hectare private game reserve which was formed in 1998 when farmers in the area decided to remove their fences in order to restore the land to its natural state. In the 1890s gold was discovered in the region and towns sprung up, the first being Leydsdorp. The mining activities and influx of humans into the area saw disastrous consequences for the wildlife in the area. Miners and labourers hunted, snared and trapped game for both sport and food over the years but the gold soon ran out and the miners left the area. It was only in 1940 when the tsetse flies and Anopheles mosquitoes were eradicated by the aerial spraying of DDT over the entire area that farming began to play a major role in the area. It was the farming of cattle combined with excessive hunting and poor land management that further added to the decimation of natural game in the area.
The decision to restore the area and to maintain its balance of species and flora and fauna has seen impressive results. The Karongwe Association was founded in 2001 and there are currently over 40 mammal species in the Reserve, including the Big Five: Lion, Leopard, Rhino, Elephant and Buffalo. The Association also uses community projects to try and involve the natives in nature projects to help understand how important the preservation of nature is for future generations. Today the game on the reserve extends far beyond the Big Five and includes wild dogs, cheetah, spotted and brown hyena, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, kudu, bushbuck, steenbok, duiker, impala, waterbuck, blackbacked and sidestriped jackal, honey badger, baboon, vervet monkey, mongoose, warthog, bushpig, tortoise. There are also the special nocturnal creatures like the porcupine, aardvark, civet, genet, caracal, serval, spring hare. Water species include hippo, crocodile, otter and terrapins. And for bird watchers there are lots of bird species, especially at the big dams and along the rivers.
The Karongwe Private Game Reserve has an altitude that varies from approximately 480 metres above sea level at the Makutswe river in the north to approximately 560 metres above sea level at Beacon rock in the central southern area. The area has a low and erratic rainfall which is characteristic of semi-arid savannahs. It has a hot, wet season of 5-7 months (October to April) and the remainder of the year is very dry. The average rainfall of 482mm has been recorded over the last 12 years.
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