LIMPOPO-LIPADI is a large (20,500 ha) game and wilderness reserve located on the northern banks of the Limpopo River in the Tuli Block of south-east Botswana. Its owners are a diverse community from around the world who want to conserve and protect the African wilderness and who treat Limpopo-Lipadi as their home away from home. The reserve is large enough to sustain a natural predator–prey balance, thanks to varied habitat types, and boasts diverse game viewing, phenomenal birdwatching, fantastic landscapes and an extremely low visitor density. Owners and their friends have the option of self-drive or guided game drives and catering options range from fully catered to self-catering. Activities include game drives, walks, fishing, viewing from hides, bush picnics and simple relaxation. The management team based on the reserve is very discreet and respectful of privacy. This unique model empowers owners to leave a legacy without having to deal with the complexity and costs of managing their own game reserve.
The vision for Limpopo-Lipadi is to develop a world-class game reserve with a sustainable balance between conservation, community and commerce in order to leave a conservation legacy in Botswana for the next generation. The focus has been since the inception in 2005-2006 directed on great owner-experience whilst at the same time providing education, jobs and opportunities for the local communities and preserving our vast wilderness area through bush conservation and reintroducing endangered species. As a secondary benefit an investment in LL grows in value as the reserve grows in stature, from being a lifestyle investment to becoming more of a truly financial one. The proposal is this of an alternative model to sole game reserve ownership, where LL is inviting keen conservationists, safari lovers and wildlife enthusiasts to invest in a private reserve which plays a significant role in nature conservation in Botswana.
The last sentence sets the tone at LL. The term “shareholder” makes sense in the fact that buying into LL is is a lifestyle investment decision, an investment we all want to preserve for generations. All investors in LL can tick that box as LL is safely run and managed financially like any good business.
That being said, LL shareholders are essentially members of an exclusive club in the bush, shared by like-minded passionate people, gathering in large numbers from all over the world each year for the AGM to discuss the way forward. As a matter of fact, the word shareholders resonates more as being part of the Lipadi Family.
Limpopo-Lipadi shareholders collectively own shares in a Botswana public company (LLBI) that purchased nearly 17,000 hectares of freehold, full title land in 2006 with traversing rights over an additional 3,500 hectares. All 20,500 hectares are within a common fence and are part of the Limpopo-Lipadi Game and Wilderness Reserve Association, members of which are bound together by a common agreement and vision for wildlife conservation. Future expansions are being discussed so that LL eventually forms part of the whole corridor towards Mashatu and the Mapungubwe trans-frontier park in the foreseeable future. An increasing interest from institutional investors is visible partly due to the substantial appreciation in land value in such synergy (NOTUGRE land is valued at around 3 times as much as LL’s).
Botswana’s high-end tourism model has also been very successful with regards to preserving vast nature areas. LL is following suit with a low impact tourism model in the Tuli Block. With a focus on community, LL allocates a proportion of invested capital towards education and providing jobs to surrounding villages.
Nature conservation at LL
LL’s humble beginnings as a “breeding basket” for endangered species has been bearing fruit. LL started with a breeding program for white rhino in 2007 (there are only about 100 white rhino left in Botswana, none in the Tuli area, and lately there has been a huge poaching surge in South Africa). The first rhino calf was born in April 2011 and was believed to be the first and still alive in the Tuli since the early 1900s. Since another three have been born, bringing the number of white rhino to nine. This is a significant step forward to accomplish the legacy LL wants to leave.
In August 2008, LL was asked by Botswana Wildlife to adopt 9 wild dog puppies whose parents had been poached and reintroduce them back in to the bush. They have been successfully reared and released to do their own hunting, since May 2010, and have been thriving in the reserve and have since had a new litter each year. The population of wild dogs has however recently suffered a severe setback on account of an outbreak of rabies (some individuals indeed regularly escape the relative protection of the reserve), yet the alpha female has denned to give birth to a new generation.
LL is also involved in a leopard identification project (a shareholders’ initiative) and is monitoring the impact of the recent re-introduction of lion in the reserve particularly on competing predators. LL has a high density of leopard, hyenas (both spotted and brown hyenas), and wild dogs of course and lions are known to show their apex position by taking on competing predators.
A research centre is also being planned.
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