What originally started as a maize and game farm of 2141 ha named Boschpoort in 1972 belonging to the Wessels family, has now become the internationally well known Mabalingwe Nature Reserve.
Mabalingwe is born
The first step in this realization of the Reserve started in 1987 when Basie Wessels (who died in a tragic plane crash on the Reserve in 2008) decided to develop Boschpoort into a Holiday Resort applying the experience he had gained by assisting Dikholo and Mabula to develop their resorts, and on the 10th of March 1988 the first 10 chalets were completed!
By 1994, 105 units were completed and portions of the farm were sold off to whole owners, who built their own houses on the property. Around this time adjoining land, known as Gorcum land was purchased which increased the size of the farm.
1994 Basie’s son Hannes Wessels, an architect by profession, moved back to the farm to start the Caravan Park development. In the same year more land known as Olievenfontein was acquired. In 2000 Itaga camp was opened and two new developments were started on the farm namely Boekenhoutplaat and Elandsfontein, in 2003 the Cyferfontein development was added. By this stage the farm size was approximately 12000ha.
The introduction of wildlife
Originally there were only Kudu’s and Impala on the farm; in 1989 the Wessel’s family established Hippopotami, Rhinoceros and Sable antelope on the farm. Tsessebe and other antelopes were added as time went by. In 1995 Elephants that were earmarked to be culled in the Kruger National Park, were relocated to Mabalingwe and in 1999 a disease free Buffalo breeding project was established in Hoedspruit in the Limpopo Province, which meant that disease free Buffalo could be introduced to Mabalingwe. Today Mabalingwe boasts the “Big 5”, a large variety of antelope, small game and a very diverse bird population.
The approximately 12000ha, that constitutes Mabalingwe with its 5400 or so shareholders is a very special place that its staff compliment of just under the 300 is very proud of.