At 7,221ha (72 km2), the reserve forms part of the Limpopo Valley Conservancy that borders the Mapungubwe National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also inside the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area (GMTFCA), a large 5,909km2 transnational conservation zone uniting South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
The area has a tremendous amount of biodiversity, thanks largely to its varied habitat. Mapesu is situated within the Mopane veld dominated by Colophospermum mopane (commonly called the mopane tree, butterfly tree or turpentine tree) on the Archaean Beit Bridge complex. The reserve consists of undulating plains with a number of drainage lines and some hills (Limpopo Ridge Bushveld) in the East and South. There are plenty of (artificial, some solar-powered) waterholes with plentiful drinkable water on the property, including one natural dam/wallowing hole, which has been dug larger and deeper to allow for some hippos to later be settled in, as well as creating wallowing spaces for rhinos, buffalos, and elephants. There is also a river from which the reserve gets its namesake, the Mapedu, running through the property on a seasonal basis.
This region once focused on cattle farming which had led to overgrazing and subsequent encroachment of mopane trees. However, thru our various conservation efforts we strive to return the area to its beautiful natural state. This is a long-term strategy where we will not sacrifice nature for convenience; it will take sweat, effort and a lot of time to restore this piece of Africa to its former glory and we are well on our way.
Also, there are 49 + mammal species either currently on the reserve or that have been recently been on the reserve. In September 2016, we released a herd of elephants; in 2017, cheetahs; in 2018; sables, giraffes, buffalo; and in 2019 with great effort rhinos and many more species, all of which continue to shape the reserve’s flora and fauna. We have also aligned with the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Cheetah Meta Population Project (Endangered Wildlife Trust) where we reintroduced two cheetahs into the reserve and offer volunteer programmes that bring an upclose and personal experience in the world of conservation.
Mapesu has four of the Big 5 roaming with the remaining 1 species (lion) occurring inside Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site where we also do game drives.