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About Big Game Parks

THE ORGANISATION

The title Big Game Parks is a marketing title. It has nothing to do with the importance of larger species over smaller species. All creatures - great and small - are important, as are the habitats that support them. Bemvelo and ka Msholo are names synonymous with Big Game Parks. Bemvelo simply means "the people of our natural heritage”. Msholo is the name given to Ted Reilly by the Bushveld Swazis in the 1960's and through association, all protected areas became nationally known as ka Msholo (of Msholo).

Big Game Parks is the delegated authority on the Game Act and CITES and operates a highly effective anti-poaching unit, all directly answerable to the King's Office.

Big Game Parks is self-sustaining without financial subsidy from Government. We subscribe to the philosophy of sustainable use of natural resources - conservation rather than preservation. We prefer to place and translocate animals alive to expand the kingdom's wildlife estate, but what cannot be placed alive, we harvest. We pride ourselves in having achieved economic viability through gate, accommodation and trading receipts, which includes the sale of wild animals. We do this without compromising the Conservation ethic, simultaneously contributing to the kingdom in meaningful ways. We provide a substantial number of jobs and by necessity, we practice the strictest discipline in order to be self-sustaining.

We pride ourselves in offering value for money and being affordable to our local populace, providing an opportunity of participation in nature. Over 50% of our visitation is by local Swazis, which for a private conservation organization is almost unheard of. Many Cabinet Ministers, and others who hold positions of power and influence today, saw their first impala at Hlane or Mlilwane when they visited us on an organized school group. We are very proud to continue to provide the opportunity and privilege to engage with nature and we will persist for future generations.

The three Parks and Reserves under Big Game Parks/ Bemvelo/ ka Msholo are all privately owned, but each is proclaimed and gazetted in law for perpetuity under conservation. They carry the highest levels of legal protection available in Swaziland. Their land use is therefore predetermined by law and they may not be used for purposes other than those laid down by the Act, which confines their usage to Nature Conservation and related purposes.

We invite you to visit, support and enjoy our Parks and their clean and healthy environments - and you simultaneously contribute to the conservation of species and the growth of Swaziland and our people.

BGP Mission Statement

ROYAL SUPPORT

Without Royal support, beginning with King Sobhuza II and strongly upheld by His Majesty King Mswati III, there would be no game and no game reserves in Swaziland and our tourism industry would be accordingly impoverished.

The historical conservation record of Swaziland and the realities on the ground, show it is no secret why, and by whose efforts, this Kingdom still has a wildlife estate at all. If it were not for the King's personal and material commitments to Nature conservation and to tourism, Swaziland would have little, if anything, to show for it and many tourists would simply pass us by.

Parks are a tourism major attraction in any African country, bringing the well-known multiplier benefits of tourism. However, in recognising this reality, sight should never be lost of the purpose for which Swaziland's Parks were conceived in the first place - which was to provide Sanctuary for the Kingdom's restored wildlife heritage. The strong Royal support also provides our dedicated rangers the necessary encouragement and determination to safeguard Swaziland's wildlife heritage against unspeakable odds. And this is precisely what Big Game Parks does.

Our King, His Majesty Mswati III, was decorated by His Royal Highness Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands with the GOLDEN ARK - one of the most prestigious International Conservation awards - for standing by his rangers in times of trouble and for His role in saving His Kingdom's wildlife for posterity. In 2015, His Majesty received an award for his support of conservation judiciary by the Game Rangers Association of South Africa.

MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENTS

During our 50+ year history, Big Game Parks as a collection of the three parks has pioneered many initiatives in Swaziland.

Among them:

  • Re-established 22 species of larger mammals to the kingdom
  • Initiated the parks system and the proclamation of 6 game parks in Swaziland, and in so doing, created the conservation arena for Swaziland
  • Initiated the National Environmental Education Programme, radio campaigns and environmental literacy in order to develop a national conservation ethos. This programme then moved across to SNTC in the late 1980’s. Big Game Parks still hosts more than 13000 school children in any given year, many from rural communities. We have incorporated educational radio and media programmes in response to a growing need and appetite for it.
  • Initiated possibly the toughest Game Act in the world, working very closely with law enforcement and judicial sectors in understanding the importance of wildlife legislation and implementation
  • Hold the world record for effective rhino anti-poaching. We remain vigilant and pragmatic on this at all times
  • Initiated eco-tourism in Swaziland, including setting the bench-mark for field guides and eco-tourism staff and having the first FGASA trained guides in the kingdom
  • Created the first traditional beehive village used for tourism in southern Africa
  • Launched the first mountain bike, horse trails and bush trails in Swaziland
  • Pioneered the first eco-voluntourism in the kingdom. Due to conservation logistics, these have been discontinued for the medium term
  • Organised the first mountain bike race in Swaziland, on Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Brought White Water Rafting to Swaziland
  • Partnered on the first tour operator in Swaziland (Umhlanga Tours, now Swazi Trails)

Founders & Players