Madikwe is the fifth largest game reserve in South Africa, comprising about 750 square kilometres of bushveld. The area was previously used for farming, but the relatively poor soil meant they struggled to survive. The government recognised that the land could best be utilised by turning it into a national park. As a result, Operation Phoenix was launched in 1991, which became the world’s largest game translocation exercise. Over a period of six years the land was restored to its former natural environment – and some 8,000 animals of 27 major species were moved to Madikwe. These included the big five and other endangered species such as wild dog, spotted hyena and cheetah, as well as elephant, black and white rhino, buffalo, zebra, giraffe and various antelope.