To be a centre of conservation excellence and inspiration in the Eastern Cape Province and to be recognised as a premier high-end nature tourism destination; as well as to develop a blueprint for how to responsibly and intentionally rewild and restore previously devastated landscapes.
By embracing the concept of ‘Wilderness, Wellness, Wildlife’, the Magic Hills Private Game Reserve aims to develop a resilient, high-end tourism product to the reciprocal benefit of the area’s rehabilitation and restoration, the repatriation of animals from international zoos, protected area expansion, community upliftment, sustained area integrity and recognition of the value of our own on-site human capital.
ANIMAL RESCUE & REHABILITATION
In partnership with the highly-esteemed The Aspinall Foundation, iSanti Karoo will become a place of refuge for previously mistreated animals that have been rescued from international zoos and other ex-situ environments. Where possible, indigenous game will be rewilded on our reserve, and in situations where this is not suitable, animals may recover at the Rescue Centre – currently under construction – on Magic Hills Game Reserve until such a time that they can be rehomed.
Another priority at iSanti is rescuing and rehoming cheetahs that are currently roaming the land. While the Magic Hills Game Reserve is home to the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant and Cape buffalo), as well as cheetah and giraffe, it’s the rarer creatures that attract more discerning guests. Birdlife is prolific, with more than 400 different species known to our area alone, including the endangered and majestic Verreaux Eagle. There are also 10 endemic bird species that occur in the Karoo, which means that they are seen nowhere else in the world. Keen twitchers are guaranteed to reach for their binoculars, enticed by the wondrous calls and visual beauty of the Karoo Korhaan, Sclater’s Lark, Cinnamon-breasted Warbler and Karoo Eremomela.
There are also over 45 other unusual species roaming the land. Courageous visitors who wish to explore the grasslands by night may be fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of elusive animals like the skulking aardvark and caracal, porcupine and black-back jackal, and the shy bat-eared fox peering from a pup-filled den.
Magic Hills is also home to the largest black rhino bull in the world. As one of the most critically endangered species in the world, a sighting of this magnificent beast is priceless. And, after more than 100 years, Magic Hills is the first reserve to bring elephants back to the Great Karoo, where they once roamed freely.
While heavily overgrazed and reduced to a near-wasteland for many years, the Magic Hills Game Reserve has grown by over 672% and now occupies 20 100 hectares of rehabilitated, undulating hills, breath-taking ravines, wide sandy riverbeds and open plains over which the Big Five, cheetah and giraffe (which together make up our Magic Seven) already wander. Extensive veld rehabilitation is already under way, with 2020 being the year wherein rigorous reintroduction of Karoo grasses and native succulents to the reserve’s most degraded areas will be a priority project, as well as combatting extensive erosion. Plans are underway to remove invasive plants that had been brought to the farm in the past that have proliferated and displaced the original vegetation.
Also at the heart of our efforts is the reintroduction of the area’s first and naturally occurring wild animals. While the full extent of land under the management of the Magic Hills Game Reserve is not currently accessible to all the wildlife inhabiting the reserve, over time and once rehabilitation has been completed to a satisfactory level, more and more of our fences will be dropped to expand the great reserve, allowing free access to the remaining xxxxx hectares. This will make the total rehabilitated area around xxxxxx hectares, accessible to all visitors and wildlife on the reserve.
The vegetation of Magic Hills is representative of two Biomes, the Thicket Biome and the Nama Karoo Biome, which, with species from both biomes present, makes for a dramatic diversity of animal and plant life that guests can discover. Special among this plant life is the Spekboom (or Elephant Food Tree), which occurs naturally throughout the Magic Hills landscape, but is most abundant on the southern valleys and slopes. One of many medicinal plants on the land, Spekboom is a succulent that literally acts as a sponge for carbon dioxide, able to absorb four to ten tons of CO2 from the atmosphere per hectare – ten times more effective than the Amazon rainforest. This miracle tree is a climate change champion since it takes just 120 Spekboom trees to offset the carbon footprint of an average person for an entire year.
Working hand in hand with the Tourism Division and Executive Management, Magic Hills’ ecological goals, including veld rehabilitation and species diversification, are managed alongside tourism developments, community needs and income-generating strategies. These departments and strategies are aligned and goal-driven with the objective to restore our piece of the Great Karoo back to what Jan Smuts saw when he sought refuge in the area during the Second Anglo-Boer War, or when the Khoekhoen people, South Africa’s first nation, followed the migrating herds of springbok, quagga and blue buck up from the coast during the summers.
A project still in motion, but a project with limitless potential, Magic Hills Private Collection is certain to become the destination of choice in the Eastern Cape for discerning guests who possess a love for nature.
The history of the Great Karoo is infinite. One might struggle to fathom that this vast desert-like expanse was once an inland sea, approximately 250 million years ago, according to studies of the terrain. Slowly, as the global climate evolved, the water gradually evaporated, transforming the sea into a muggy swamp, where amphibians and reptiles thrived.
The area also became home to many different civilisations, over the millennia – from the last of the Stone Age population, to the bushmen and the nomadic Khoi people and the famed General Jan Smuts and his allies. In fact, the house where legends have it that Jan Smuts sought refuge during the Second Anglo-Boer War can be found on the Magic Hills Game Reserve, and is currently undergoing restoration.
Rock art sites also continue to be uncovered throughout the land. Investigation is currently underway into the history and significance of the sites, while respecting the rights of the national cultural estate and the Khoenkhoen people. Sadly, the San and Khoi cultures are eroding with time. To help ensure the long-term sustainability of these ancient cultures, the team at Magic Hills are in the process of developing an alignment with the Ju/’hoansi Master Trackers of the Nyae Nyae community to provide insights into tradition and experiences like no other.
Jansenville, the closest town to the private reserve, originated in 1854 when the Dutch Reformed Church formed a parish in the area. The quaint town takes its name from the last Dutch Governor of the Cape, and is home to many disadvantaged local communities, which Magic Hills supports through social responsibility initiatives.
Support our foundation and choose to become involved in any one of our conservation initiatives.