Mpumalanga is getting much needed economic investment due to its rich environment

The Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) has partnered with The Aspinall Foundation and WeWild Africa in a strategic partnership that will unlock the conservation and ecotourism potential of the Loskop Dam Nature Reserve and the surrounding areas known as the Loskop Cluster, with a vision of creating one of the largest Big Five Game Reserves in South Africa.

This will be the first agreement of its kind in the country where a Provincial Conservation Agency has facilitated a 25-year agreement to unlock investment into a provincial protected area. It will activate the upgrading of reserve infrastructure such as roads, fences, staff accommodation and field ranger compounds. Additional strategic staff and anti-poaching units will be deployed with a key objective of providing additional capacity for the reserve.

Loskop Dam Nature Reserve is approximately 23 500 ha in size and is co-owned by the MTPA and the Dendela, Mamurumo and Dendela Communities. The project promises to unlock high value ecotourism products and supporting services with a key objective of driving economic opportunities for the community landowners of the reserve.

Species including lion, cheetah, black rhino and elephant, once historic residents, will be re-introduced for ecological and economic purposes enabling access to visitors in just a two hour drive from Pretoria and Johannesburg.

Although the initial focus will be on the uplifting of the Loskop Dam Nature Reserve, the plan is to expand the reserve to an area of at least 100 000 ha by incorporating community owned and privately owned land, from areas in the Pilanesberg, Madikwe and other well know protected areas in the region.

This ambitious restoration and expansion initiative will set a blueprint for other partnerships in other provincial reserves in South Africa, which desperately need investment and private sector support if they are to survive. WeWild Africa, The Aspinall Foundation and the MTPA intend to be trailblazers and the catalyst for countless other reserves to see the potential of public-private partnerships in the country.