Game Reserves in North West ProvinceMagaliesberg Biosphere Reserve
Where?Magaliesberg (See para 4 for exact details below)
It took a concerted effort on the part of a small group of dedicated environmentalists, over almost ten years, before the Magaliesberg was declared a world biosphere reserve.
But a biosphere reserve it now is. Formally registered by Unesco in October 2015. It brings the number of biosphere reserves in South Africa to eight, out of 651 biosphere reserves in 119 countries around the world (more than 60 of them in Africa).
The Magaliesberg is the second oldest mountain range in the world, almost 100 times older than Mount Everest, and half the age of the earth. It is described as being 'at the interface of two great African biomes – the Central Grassland Plateaux and the sub-Saharan savannah'.
The Magaliesberg Biosphere Reserve is 360 000 hectares between Pretoria and Johannesburg in the east, and Rustenburg in the west. Around 262 000 people live within the biosphere.
Its reasons for its becoming a biosphere are many:
• significant is its rich biodiversity – the Aloe peglerae (fez aloe) and Frithia pulchra (baby toes or fairy elephant's feet) are unique to the reserve
• 46.6% of the total bird species of Southern Africa (443 bird species) are found here
• scenic beauty and unique natural features – dramatic kloofs and quartzite ridges
• high archaeological interest – it includes the Cradle of Humankind
The other biosphere reserves in South Africa are: Kogelberg, Cape West Coast Extension, Waterberg, Kruger to Canyons, Cape Winelands, Gouritz Cluster, and Vhembe.
They are managed as a collaboration between government, land owners, communities and other partners to make sure that they maintain Unesco standards.
A biosphere reserve, as opposed to a natural World Heritage site, is an ecological area with three functions: conservation, sustainable development (human and economic development but not at the expense of the environment), and logistic support for scientific research and education.
In some cases a core area of a biosphere reserve can meet World Heritage criteria, as in the case of Magaliesberg.