Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve

With it being a short school holiday we had the opportunity to visit the privately owned Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve for a day this past week.

The reserve was established in 1990 and is located in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site northwest of Johannesburg in the Gauteng Province of South Africa. It covers approximately 1,600 hectares of undulating terrain at the transition between the open grasslands of the Highveld and the savannas of the Bushveld.

Going by the name, clearly pride of place at the reserve goes to two species. The first is the white rhinoceros, which are heavily guarded on the reserve to keep them safe from poachers – in fact, several of the reserve’s rhinos arrived here as orphans after their mothers were poached. Furthermore the horns of the rhinos at the Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve has been infused with a toxin that makes it unfit for human consumption to further deter the unscrupulous syndicates supplying the traditional medicine markets in Asia.

In a corner of the reserve are four large camps through which visitors are allowed to drive to view two prides of lion, African wild dogs and cheetahs in natural surroundings. Whenever we consider visiting a destination where large predators are kept in camps and enclosures we are always very careful that it is not in any way linked to the absolutely abhorrent canned hunting fraternity, cub petting or the lion-bone trade. The owners and management of the Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve have publicly undertaken that the animals on the reserve will not be subjected to such inhumane practices.

The first and most expansive of the predator camps at the reserve is allocated to the tawny lions. We arrived there just minutes before feeding time, and found the lions up and very active indeed!

The next camp visitors enter houses a sizable pack of the highly social African Wild Dog, also known as Painted Wolves for their beautifully blotched coats.

A pride of White Lions is to be seen in the third predator camp (regular readers of our blog will remember how excited we were to have seen one of only three known wild white lions back in January during a visit to the Kruger National Park).

In the fourth camp visitors can try and spot cheetahs, though these lanky cats use their camouflage to great effect and finding them may be neigh impossible if they don’t want to be spotted!

Another positive feature of the reserve is the vulture restaurant – a feeding station where carcasses are regularly laid out for the endangered birds. Throughout our day on the reserve we had regular sightings of the impressive but endangered Cape Vultures overhead, and many other kinds of birds were also in evidence.

Other kinds of mammals, aside from the rhinos and large predators, thrive on the reserve and roam freely over most of it. We were especially impressed by the large herd of eland and beautiful sable antelope, and we also saw black-backed jackal, black and blue wildebeest, blesbok, buffalo, gemsbok, grey duiker, impala, roan antelope, springbok, warthog, waterbuck and yellow mongoose.

Special mention needs to be made of the reserve’s population of Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra. Being not at all indigenous to this part of the country visitors are provided an opportunity to see the least well-known of the three kinds of zebra found in South Africa.

The main visitor centre of the reserve offers an extensive picnic site and playground, restaurant, swimming pool and the wildlife centre – a collection of endangered and mostly non-indigenous reptiles, birds and mammals, obviously well taken care of and displayed in well maintained terrariums and enclosures, among which visitors are allowed to stroll at their leisure.

Visitors can overnight on the reserve in chalets and log cabins, the latter overlooking a portion of the lion camp. Given the rather small size of the reserve the road network, all dirt, is not very extensive but the majority of roads can at least be fairly easily traversed in standard passenger vehicles while there’s also additional routes available to 4×4’s. Unfortunately the Wonder Cave which as adjacent to the reserve was closed at the time of our visit.

Location of the Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve (Google Maps)



45 thoughts on “Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve

  1. Birder's Journey

    What a fascinating post – each bit of text is so informative and the labels indicating the species on each photo are invaluable. What an ingenious ploy used with the rhino horns – amazing what needs to be done to protect wild creatures from harm. I must say that it never occurred to me that there were multiple types of Zebras (!) and I enjoyed going to the link to your other post to read more about this specific species.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. KC

    I remember coming away feeling so depressed about the leopard in the small cage and the cheetah interaction session on offer. It was a few years ago, so lets hope this has changed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Thanks for weighing in, KC. I think the new management has taken hugely positive strides at Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve and all evidence we saw points to more of the same being in the pipeline.


  3. scrapydo2.wordpress.com

    Wow, dis n park om te besoek. Jy het beslis besondere fotos geplaas. Dankie daarvoor. Ek’t probeer uitmaak waar die plek is. Wat is die naam van die plek? Sal graag nog meer wil lees oor hulle. Ons het mos lank langs die ou Pretoria Krugersdorp pad gebly net voor mens aansluiting na Hartebeespoortdam kry, dis nou v Pta se kant af. Muldersdrift is ook nie ver van waar ons gebly het nie.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. scrapydo2.wordpress.com

        Ek het so afgelei van die plekke waarna ek gekyk het. Toentertyd was daar wel n sogenaamde leeupark met n paar leeus. Meer vir toerisme te lok want daar was n tradisionele Mapogerhuis ook. Onthou dit want my tante uit Holland het kom kuier in1962 en ons het haar gaan wys. Het foto waar sy voor die huisie staan.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      It certainly is a novel approach to safeguarding the rhinos, John, and I hope it remains a successful strategy. We love sharing our natural places with you all and hope those places, and their denizens, remain safe for future generations.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. naturebackin

    I am glad to see that this park issued a statement in September 2019 saying that it has stopped the practice of cub-petting and commits to having no connection to canned hunting or the lion bone trade.
    I looked at the park’s website and was disappointed to see no vision or mission statement or any detail on the rationale for the park’s existence. In the absence of any such information, it would seem therefore that its main purpose is a venue for tourism? It is unclear how much captive breeding it engages in and for which species, and it is unspecified how many animals it sells or to whom.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      I think we share most if not all of your concerns, Carol, which is why we are so pedantic about researching the places we visit before the time. I suppose most private reserves and even provincial and national parks are operated with an eye to profit, and if the management opt to use tourism and other sustainable and ethically acceptable methods as the foundation of their operations that’s quite acceptable to us. We came away from our visit to the Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve with a very positive impression.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. H.J. for avian101

    Another wonderful place, the Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve. Your weather definitely improved, it renders the colors with more intensity. You got very good captures. Thanks for the tour, my friend. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people


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