The 20 000 hectare Babanango Game Reserve in Zululand has officially achieved Big 5 status, home to SA’s big five game animals.
Babanango gets the Big 5
After many years of rewilding and significant efforts, KwaZulu-Natal’s Babanango Game Reserve has attained full Big 5 status, and is now home to lion, rhino, buffalo, leopard and elephant, among many other species.
According to Tourism Update, a small breeding herd of seven elephants were recently introduced to Babanango from Manyoni Game Reserve in Maputaland, whose genetic lineage can be traced to Kruger National Park.
These gentle giants play an important role in the ecology of the reserve, to help modify the landscapes as they eat vegetation which other species can’t.
“Now that Babanango is a Big Five reserve, it is a huge achievement in conservation in KwaZulu-Natal. Every single animal protected is an achievement in conservation. The more Protected Areas we create, the more species are conserved, most of which are endangered species. These iconic species add significant value to the guest experience as a tourism operation, with long term benefit and support of economic development in the area,” Musa Mbatha, Reserve Manager at Babanango Game Reserve said.
The rewilding process at Babanango began in 2019, when a herd of buffalo were introduced, followed by the strategic introductions of white and black rhino, then lions and now elephants.
Cheetahs call the reserve home
The reserve also only just last year introduced two male cheetahs to the area, for the first time in nearly 200 years.
The two rewilded cheetahs, who are brothers, were brought in from the Roam Private Game Reserve in the Western Cape in May last year, and they now happily call Babanango home.