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Tswalu Kalahari Game Reserve

Tswalu Kalahari Game Reserve

“To restore the Kalahari to itself” has been the driving passion of the Oppenheimer family, custodians of Tswalu Kalahari since 1998. What was once prime game hunting area, dotted with neglected cattle farms, fences, and other manmade structures was given a tswalu, or a “new beginning.” All hunting was immediately stopped, and new land acquired, bringing the total to over 270,000 acres of protected wildlife sanctuary. These additional acquisitions have made Tswalu Kalahari the largest private game reserve in South Africa, and it now hosts two premiere accommodations: Tswalu Motse and Tswalu Tarkuni.

Early known history of the Kalahari goes back to the bushmen, who worked as hunter-gatherers until they were pushed out by encroaching Europeans and other Africans. Since the area can be dry and harsh, growing and farming conditions were difficult then and continue today, even with modern means to bring in water. The southern Kalahari, better known as the Tswalu Kalahari, receives more rainfall than the northern area, resulting in another common name, the “Green Kalahari.” After many years of neglect, native grasses are flourishing, and the endangered desert black rhinos and black-maned Kalahari lions have been reestablished.

The climate and habitats of Tswalu Kalahari are varied, from grasslands to sand dunes to mountains. The Korannaberg Mountains in particular provide shelter for a number of species that could never survive the dry, open plains. On game drives, walks, or horse rides, guest often see zebra, buffalo, giraffe, cheetah, Kalahari lion, brown hyena, and many species of antelope. Smaller wildlife is no less spectacular, especially considering its rarity, and include meerkat, aardvark, and pangolin.

The Oppenheimers and De Beers have joined forces to promote conservation efforts along the “Diamond Route.” Guests and researchers also observe and take part in preserving the delicate ecosystems through the Tswalu Foundation, resulting in numerous environmental projects. Some examples of these include aardvark adaptation for survival, raptor conservation, tunnel farming, and the clinic.

Tswalu Kalahari seeks to be a positive part of the community. It has provided a number of benefits for its staff of 142 and their families including a staff village, a sports facility, a preschool, an adult literacy program, skills training, a primary healthcare clinic, and health and nutrition education.

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