In the Eastern Cape, an easy hour and a half's drive from Port Elizabeth, Shamwari Game Reserve is, in every sense of the word, a conservation triumph. Unprofitable farmland has been turned into a successful tourist attraction, wild animals have been reintroduced, and alien vegetation has been, and is still being, eradicated. The reserve, which officially opened in 1992, is constantly being expanded and now stands at about 62,000 acres. Its mandate is to conserve not only
the big impressive animals (which are abundant), but everything else: indiginous plants, buildings, history, and culture of the area. The reserve's six lodges are all top notch and each offers its own unique flavor, from the romantic colonial decadence of Long Lee Manor to the contemporary cool of Eagle's Crag.
Born Free Centres. Part of the reserve has been set aside as the Born Free Centres (there's one in the northern part and one in the southern part of the reserve). Here African leopards and lions rescued from zoos, circuses, and even nightclubs around the world are allowed to roam in large enclosures for the rest of their lives, as they cannot safely be returned to the wild. Although these are interesting tourist attractions, the main purpose is educational, and about 500 local schoolchildren tour the centers every month. www.bornfree.org.uk.
Shamwari Game Reserve, South Africa