Pilanesberg - Some interesting reading

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Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2012 8:53 am
Country: ZA
Location: Muldersdrift

Pilanesberg - Some interesting reading

Post by JoeKing » Mon May 21, 2012 4:28 pm


A pair of White Rhinoceroses in Pilanesberg Game Reserve

A managed bush fire at dusk at Pilanesberg

Pre 1970s
In the last century, Pilansberg served as a vary different kind of sanctuary to Mzilikazi’s rebel Zulu warriors passed through the area as they fled the wrath of Zulu king, Shaka. During the Second Boer War, not long after this, General Christiaan de Wet’s hid from the British amongst these same hills - perhaps promoting the later purchase of a farm in the area by South African Prime minister Jan Smuts.

During the late 1970s, President Lucas Mangope of Bophuthatswana decided to re-introduce wildlife and turn the Pilansberg into a game reserve. With Bophuthatswana having been an independent homeland, the Park was proclaimed by the then local black government. The 52 cattle farmer in the area were bought out and moved to new homes elsewhere. The town of Pilanesberg was flattened and all that remains is the old Magistrates Court which is now called the Pilanesberg Centre. There is a little restaurant there with a stunning view. After this work began on Operation Genesis, which involved the game-fencing of the entire reserve and the re-introduction of long vanished species.
The only other remains is the small graveyard not visible except for a very short time about 1 in 3 years after controlled burning. The Park was seen as the National Park of Bophutatswana & of course called Pilanesberg National Park. With the forceful reoccupation by the old government and the ANC, President Lucas Mangope was deposed by a coup and Bop reincorporated with South Africa. Pilanesberg is one of the few names in South Africa that won't change as it is named after Chief Pilane, a very powerful chief that owns vast land outside the park. Chief Pilane's grandfather fought with the British against the Boers and had the reputation of being invisible. It seems that more land was given for services rendered.
The park was opened in 1979, as part of the South African Governments Operation Genesis.


A view of the topography in Pilanesberg
6000 animals were resettled into the park over the course of the early 1980s with Operation Genesis which was the largest game resettlement programme in the history of the country. The 6000 animals were released into the quarantine area of 10 km² in groups and after a few weeks the fences were dropped. As the purpose of the park was a feeder for other parks no lion or cheetah were brought in. However leopard was naturally present as was brown hyena and mountain reedbuck. Currently this is The Park in the world that has the highest concentration of hyena. Also brought in was a family of elephant. As no mature bulls was brought in as they were too large, the young bulls caused a bit of havoc and killed 17 rhinoceroses. The reason for this was there was no parental care and the young bulls came into adolescence at too young an age. However by this time the transport techniques had improved so 6 older bulls were brought in from the Kruger. This suppressed the adolescence problem. The young culprits were all shot.
The creation of the Pilanesberg Game Reserve is considered one of the most ambitious programmes of its kind to be undertaken anywhere in the world.[1] The Operation Genesis, which involved the game-fencing of the reserve and the reintroduction of long-vanished species, began during the late 1970s. Operation Genesis is still the largest game translocation undertaken in the world, and as a result the park now has in excess of 10,000 animals.

In 1990 when Nelson Mandela was released, tourism in South Africa boomed. In response to this, in 1993, the focus was changed from game animals to predators. Lions from the Etosha National Park in Namibia were relocated to this park despite serious concerns from the surrounding communities. Since then, the lion's numbers have been increasing in the park. A similar attempt with cheetahs from Namibia has had no such success.
Camps and lodges were built on the perimeter and it became a tourist destination.

The size of the park was increased from 552 to 572 km² in May 2004 as part of a workable 10 year plan to establish a corridor between Pilanesberg and Madikwe Game Reserve. The 20 km² that was added on the north western was the first bit from Pilanesberg's side. On the Madikwe's side there has already been several additions towards the south east. There are also several private owners dropping fences from the middle moving towards Pilanesberg and Madikwe. Property, that was selling for R30,000/km² 2 years ago, is now selling for R500,000/km². Plans are being concluded to add a large piece of land to the park in the next two years. A recent poll conducted by the South African Tourism board found that the Pilanesberg has jumped to the number 1 ranking on the list of most popular public Game Reserves in South Africa. This comes after many years of trailing the Kruger National Park. It is thought that Pilanesbergs close proximity to Johannesburg coupled with the fact that it is maleria free has led to its new found popularity.

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