Babanango Game Reserve: Rewilding Project Update of our Big Five Game Reserve

Over the last seven years, Babanango Game Reserve has embarked on one of the largest game translocation projects in the country, selectively sourcing over 3,000 large mammal species and sensitively reintroducing them back to 20,000 ha of previously overgrazed wilderness, the heart of Zululand.

As a newly established Big Five game reserve, it has been a joy and a privilege to watch the animals adapt to their new home.

Read on for the latest updates!


Our Babanango male lions have officially been with us for 434 days and have established a territory spanning nearly half the reserve. Their frequent vocalisations echo across the valleys, marking their dominance, a sure sign of their comfort in their new environment.

To aid our conservation efforts and due to the sensitive nature of the rewilding project, we use tracking devices to monitor all our lions, focusing on their movements and overall health.

One exciting development in this story is the movement of one older female lion (of approximately four years and six months of age), who has been returning to the same spot since the 21st of February, located deep in the valley, inaccessible by vehicle. We are waiting with anticipation to see cubs any day now!

Excitingly, one of our other females has also started showing similar behaviour. She has been returning to the same location on a rocky koppie since the 16th of April. This location is fortunately in an area with good road access, and we hope to potentially view her cubs soon as well.

This is a very hopeful sign of the sustainable growth and natural development within our now Big Five game reserve, just the signs we want to see!


For the past year, our female cheetahs have been exploring their new home in Zululand and have adapted extremely well to the diverse habitat. Their roots are in the southern Cape—a very different environment and a much smaller reserve. They ventured out to join a coalition of males (two brothers) from Roam in the Karoo who had been released some months earlier.

All our cheetahs have adapted extremely well. While the brothers hunt and traverse the reserve together, the females soon split up and have been independent of each other since their release, with both very capable hunters.

We have since reached out to the Cheetah Advisory Group for the introduction of a new female cheetah into the reserve, and an individual from Welgevonden Game Reserve has been earmarked for us, bringing the total number of cheetahs in our part of Zululand to five. We applied for this permit on 29 April 2024 and hope to receive her as early as the end of May!

Keep your eyes tuned to our social media platforms for more updates.  

As with our lions, one of our cheetah females was also showing signs that she may have given birth to cubs, as she was recorded to be returning to the same location from 22 March until 24 April. However, after this date, she was no longer returning to the ‘den site’ and was sighted elsewhere on the reserve. Unfortunately, no cubs have been seen with her to date. An investigation of the ‘den site’ also shows no signs of the cubs, and sadly, we suspect she may have lost the litter.

This is not unusual behaviour observed with cheetahs, as they generally have low reproductive success in the wild. This particular female is also relatively young (3 years old) and is a first-time mother.

The presence of other larger predators and scavengers on the reserve also makes raising cubs very challenging. The biggest threat is the mighty lion – who is fiercely competitive.

We do, however, suspect our other female cheetah may also be pregnant, and we hope she is more successful. There is nothing we’d love more than to see the first wild-born cheetahs back in this part of Zululand after perhaps a century or more.


Rhino conservation and protection are of paramount importance to us in our game reserve, with these magnificent beasts protected 24/7 by state-of-the-art surveillance and hyper-alert security. The global battle against rhino poaching is ongoing and unrelenting, which is why the news of a new calf, born on Babanango Game Reserve on 9 March 2024, is cause for much celebration!

 Some of our other female white rhinos are also showing signs of being pregnant (with an impressive gestation period of 15 – 16 months!).

Our black rhinos are also thriving, with the females also showing signs of pregnancy. So watch this space!

We have planned horn trimming over the next few months, a harmless process for the animals and a necessary precaution to deter potential poachers.


Our elephant population remains stable, with two herds calling the hills of Babanango home. Several females currently have calves at foot, and we aren’t expecting any new calves for 2024 (considering that the gestation period for these majestic beasts is just under two years!).

The herds are fairly established in the east of the reserve but are exploring new areas, which is an encouraging sign that they are adapting well to their environment.

Game Introductions and Spottings

In April of 2024, we successfully introduced more bushbucks, elands, and red hartebeests to the reserve to expand the already existing populations.

Spotted hyaenas have also been observed and picked up on our trail cameras almost daily! These species were not formally introduced, but with the restoration of the environment and the introduction of other naturally occurring game and predators, they have re-entered the area on their own.

Thank you for joining us on this remarkable journey. We are deeply grateful for the significant strides made on our rewilding project in our now firmly established ‘Big Five’ game reserve. We count it an absolute privilege to witness this story unfold daily under the beautiful African sun.