Madikwe

Old Dec 10th, 2007, 12:27 AM
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Madikwe

We have had a really indepth discussion on Madikwe on this board, and yet again, I have feedback from people that have travelled to Madikwe recently and then followed it with a trip to the Sabi Sands and they have adamantly said that the feeling that they got in madikwe was like visiting a disneyland safari park. It is a great pity, a they have worked hard to get the reserve running. They stayed at Jacis, do you think that the older lodges are just resting on their reputation andnot really taking guests needs into account and that the newer lodges are better for guests?
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Old Dec 10th, 2007, 01:54 PM
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I think the problem is Madikwe Reserve in general. Two things. First, I'm not sure the water supply/availability is conducive to good game "concentration". But I'm not an expert on this, my 2 cents. Second, give the reserve another 20 or so years.

regards - tom
ps - at least the people went to Madikwe first then SSGR. Going to SSGR then Madikwe is setting yourself for a big let down
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Old Dec 10th, 2007, 03:32 PM
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This is the second time I have seen the advice, "give it x years." The other suggestion was for 10 years.
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Old Dec 10th, 2007, 04:40 PM
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I wouldn't bother going there.

you cannot create nature.

I hear (from my TA) that there are now only 2 cheetah in the reserve and they are both males.
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Old Dec 10th, 2007, 05:15 PM
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well, said ..... Geoff.
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Old Dec 10th, 2007, 05:23 PM
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Wonder what the game was like there before modern man, say 500 years ago?

regards - tom
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Old Dec 10th, 2007, 05:53 PM
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Quote "Wonder what the game was like there before modern man, say 500 years ago?"

Wonder what the game was like in the U.S and Aust'before modern man too!

Those bison herds must have been spectacular and thinking of the number of extinct creatures from Aust' makes me cringe.

Geoff.
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Old Dec 10th, 2007, 06:44 PM
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I guess at least one Fodorite wants to live in Europe, 500,000 years ago - when the last sightings of the giant European cheetah (Acinonyx pardinensis) occur...
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Old Dec 10th, 2007, 07:08 PM
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Nyama,

According to historical records ... the last remaining cheetah in the wilds of India were extinct just around the late 60s/early 70s

Too bad i wasn't around then ..... but, hopefully i wonder if we can save the Tiger?
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Old Dec 10th, 2007, 07:28 PM
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The Madwike experiment began in 1992 and involved the largest movement of game ever undertaken between 1992 and 1999. Animals are still being added, it is not natural but what is certainly not Sabi Sands where game management is intensive.
Viewing is managed and limited but so is Sabi Sands, at least you do not have the problem of driving around your own concession for 1 and1/2 hours at the start of every drive.
If you want to go somewhere wild go to see the Rhino in Luangwa or Okavango these come from South Africa, or perhaps more interesting the Lions in Gir India the majority of which were sourced from Etosha.
Both Madikwe and Sabi Sands are artificial, both are very busy but Sabi Sands has far higher densities of lodges per hectare and as a result numbers of vehicles are also higher. By going to Sabi Sands you will help the local community as you will in Madikwe. If you choose not to support Madikwe then this employment will go and discourage the many other initiatives of a similar nature that are currently under way or proposed.
Just out of interest what animals were destroyed in Australia?
 
Old Dec 10th, 2007, 07:42 PM
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Ken,

The first that came to my mind was the thylacine or Tasmanian 'tiger'.

This link will give some idea, but there are many other threatened species too, some of which are being bred in captivity and returned to the wild once introduced predators have been excluded:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extinct_Australian_animals

John
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Old Dec 10th, 2007, 08:02 PM
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sniktawk - so, I DID go to Madikwe, I have supported it. Now it's everyone else's turn on Fodors to go and support Madikwe

regards - tom
ps - so who's got an extra $2,500 and five days travel time???
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Old Dec 10th, 2007, 08:29 PM
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I have quite a different view on this.

For starters X years to approach the Sabi Sand = never without huge unforseeable factors

This is because Sabi Sand borders one of the largest and most diverse national parks in the world. Why on earth would anyone expect Madikwe to be the same, it is an isolated reserve, though it is similar in size to SSGR it does not share a border with a park that is bigger than many countries.

I'd love to hear why these people thought Madikwe was a Disneylike safari park but Sabi Sand wasn't as I've heard quite a few people suggest that Sabi Sand itself is Disneylike, zoolike or safari lite -- all terms I've heard attached to it. The reality is if you are used to the large wilderness spaces of Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia or Kenya both Madikwe and Sabi Sand by comparison are going to feel heavily managed, possibly somewhat tamed and the high density of people staying in and traversing the areas are going to be very noticeable. I've also heard people who are disappointed with the safari in wilderness areas as they prefer the easier sightings that come with the much smaller reserve and higher density tourism that results in more animals being highly habituated and easier to find and follow. Different tastes are good for conserving different types of areas.

Along those lines Madikwe is a very important reserve in many ways. Why canít people appreciate it for what it is rather than detract from it because itís not the same as other areas. It is a model for rehabilitating cattle decimated land and returning habitat to wildlife! Number one cause by far for decreasing wildlife populations is habitat loss. Creation of significantly sized new areas for wildlife to repopulate is extremely rare and badly needed if we ever want species to increase or even at least slow the rate of decrease. People look at zoos and endangered breeding centers and think of them as important conservation tools but itís difficult to even find appropriate places to return lions and tigers, etc to. Then trying to restore populations with captive animals is unbelievably difficult as they have lost their precision skills needed to survive. Madikwe provides a safe reservoir for some of Africaís rarest species where they continue to live wild in a system interacting with dozens of other mammal species. Especially with the rarest species it is critical to have multiple populations that are separated from one another so a disease epidemic doesnít wipe them all out. Translocating over 8,000 sizeable mammals from 28 species was a first of its kind project, creating a community of African wildlife in a place that had been left for dead from overgrazing cattle to the point that it could no longer support cows. As Geoff says we cannot create nature (especially with all males) so its not perfect and as a fenced reserve constant wildlife management is necessary (of course most areas have some degree of that going on now), none the less the reserve is serving a great purpose in wildlife conservation.

When I visited I knew what to expect and filled my interest with the dynamics of wildlife management and I certainly didnít expect it to be similar to my favorite areas of Botswana. Yet, I had my best black rhino viewing to date, saw numerous white rhino, viewed my only brown hyena to date, and observed a pack of African wild dog. I followed Madikwe with twice as many nights in Botswana and saw none of those 4 species on that trip. I came to Madikwe hoping to find these rare species and had good sightings of all of them and with the exception of the dogs at all of those viewings we were the only vehicle. We found the dogs too so had 15 minutes or so to ourselves with them too. Also was able to see lions eating a wildebeest and ticked off 22 mammal species in 4 days, which I was very satisfied with. Any feelings of tameness or a Disney park experience were violently removed as I our vehicle, again alone, sat in pitch darkness less than 10 feet from two big boy lions and two lionesses who roared in unison with such ferocity that my body reverberated from the sound and my soul was shaken forever in one of the most memorable moments of my life.

Beyond the rehabilitation of land model this project was also purposely placed in one of the poorest areas of South Africa in hopes that tourism could bring an economic life to the surrounding peoples. There can be no lasting wildlife conservation without bringing significant benefit to the local community. Here many jobs have been created, a great influx of cash has come, and I had the great privilege to stay at the first (and at the time only) local community owned lodge in all of South Africa. If this model works other communities will follow, creating new areas for wildlife and bringing economic opportunity to people who badly need it at the same time.

I loved my experience here and thought it was important to make a visit to Madikwe. I would urge people not to say never but instead go once with an understanding of the reserve and appreciate it for that and use it to compliment your favorite areas.

Final thoughts: malaria free is big for some people and Iím not aware of many areas that are going to provide a better wildlife experience under that restriction. Also, projects like this that are creating habitat from scratch make the most sense to me for having the ultra-luxury lodges. They need to offer more attractions to compete to bring in tourists as the habitat and wildlife experience needs time to grow and since they are starting with land in ruin to begin with they are not degrading an amazing wilderness by bringing in such extravagances when the wilderness should be the true selling point.
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Old Dec 10th, 2007, 11:28 PM
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I agree with Predator it definatly is a place to go if you would like a malaria free safari. I have no problem with Madikwe Game Reserve itself, my problem comes with the lodges and the costs, know ing that you do not compare with game viewing in other parts of Africa, does thatentitle you to charge what the Sabi Sands reserves charge, my thinking is that surely to get more visitors to Madikwe charge less and get people up there to have some game viewing and a great lodge because most of them are wonderful lodges, but encourage visitors by charging less than the Sabi Sands. If I had to choose and you gave me Mala Mala and a Madikwe lodge which is more than Mala Mala I willt ake Mala Mala for gameviewing everytime. Yees it is lovely to have a wonderful lodge etc etc, but people are going to view game that is their first priority, so charge less and get people up there.
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Old Dec 11th, 2007, 04:17 AM
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John,

Thanks for the list, I had forgotten what rabbits and rats can do, not to mention people.

Bill

I agree with every word, I wish I could be as fluent

Doogle
I must dispute the prices argument.
Mala Mala varies from $575 to $ 875.
According to Madikwe Info the most expensive camps listed Madikwe Hills and Mateya are around $ 620. There are 15 camps on this site, the average high season rate is $440, the low being as little as $230.
 
Old Dec 11th, 2007, 05:33 AM
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For $230 Madikwe would become much more attractive to me, and not just 10 years from now.

Bill is so right, that you must approach the location with the right attitude. I experienced that in Phinda, a fenced concession. I loved Phinda, but I knew it would not provide the remote, wilderness feeling of other places.

Thanks for bringing this up.
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Old Dec 11th, 2007, 08:10 AM
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I went to Makanyane in February 06 after Mala Mala and really enjoyed it. It was definitely very different, but we saw some different species, including our beloved wild dogs, some good new birds also. The lodges are beautiful and a bargain in many cases. Is it as good as SSGR - I think not, but will I go back - I sure will.
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Old Dec 11th, 2007, 09:41 AM
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the feeling that they got in madikwe was like visiting a disneyland safari park.

How is this possible, that Disney safari park is unique and an absolute abhorrent of the African safari experience.

I think the problem is Madikwe Reserve ... water supply/availability is conducive to good game "concentration...Second, give the reserve another 20 or so years.

What will happen in 20 years? What is the problem with the water supply? Groot Marico River and numerous water points within the reserve. The reserve was conceived by qualified scientists, not presumptuous laymen. The reserve has myriad species that are actually adapted to desert like conditions and have done exceptionally well in the reserve.

you cannot create nature.

No you can't, but you can allow nature to evolve, which it will do given half a chance. Ever noticed grass growing out the concrete sidewalk? Similarly you can reintroduce species, which is what has been done successfully throughout Africa. Guess how the Rhino got to Botswana and Kenya? Elephant to Angola? And buffalo to the eastern cape?

Wonder what the game was like there before modern man, say 500 years ago?

No need to guess, the san rock art tells many stories of a thriving eco-system.

By going to Sabi Sands you will help the local community as you will in Madikwe.

Amen. Not only that, but conservation in general. Original lions in Phinda came from Sabi Sands too.

Yees it is lovely to have a wonderful lodge etc etc, but people are going to view game that is their first priority, so charge less and get people up there.

Market forces will dictate the price threshold for the Madikwe. It supports a far greater diversity of species than the sabi sand, which by implication makes it a far more desirable game viewing destination. Ever seen a black rhino at the trend setting mala mala reserve? I think not and if so, pure fluke! Come to think of it have you ever seen a Gemsbuck, Eland, crimson breasted shrike, pennant winged nights jar at the Mala Mala reserve?

So my point is: Argue the fact and not the emotion, both areas offer great viewing at either ridiculously expensive prices or at laughable all inclusive tariffs. Both complement each other and package well together, much like the Samburu and Mara do in east Africa. At the end of the day both support conservation practices that further preserve South Africa's natural heritage and at the same time offer impoverished communities the opportunity to earn money.

Of course many other benefits too that far outweigh alternate land use!
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Old Dec 11th, 2007, 06:38 PM
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I agree with (Pred) Bill's thinking, but while I don't doubt the managed areas need support, I figure the less managed wilder areas need it more. There are plenty of people supporting the former, while the latter are a threatened species because of human pressures. The more people want wilder areas to exist and want to visit them without leaving too big a footprint, the longer they will exist.

John
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Old Dec 11th, 2007, 06:54 PM
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Ken,

I'm always hearing people blame cats, foxes, rabbits etc for the damage they do to native fauna and flora. But hardly anybody condemns those who make it possible for introduced species to cause such damage...those who still allow cats to go feral, and those who brought European species to my country to give the place the 'flavour of home' (much like the people who want home comforts on safari).

John
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