BGP Conservation: The Kingdom of Swaziland's Big Game Parks (BGP) manages Hlane Royal National Park, Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary & Mkhaya Game Reserve. It also has a national conservation mandate and manages the Game Act & Swaziland's stance on CITES.

BGP Conservation

Conservation Organisation

Formal conservation in Swaziland began in the 60’s with Ted Reilly, founder of Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. This caught the attention of the Swazi Monarchy, leading to his appointment as the Royal Adviser on wildlife.  Since then Reilly conceived and initiated the Government parks system, pioneered the National Environmental Education Programme, saved the Nguni cattle from extinction and eventually founded Big Game Parks Trust in the 90’s.  Today Big Game Parks is the delegated authority on the Game Act and CITES and operates a highly effective anti-poaching unit. Use the tabs to discover more. Pass on information relating to poaching to +268 76043867/76500501 or


Celebrating 50 Years of Imvelo Yakitsi - Our Heritage

On the 12th July 1964, Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary opened to the public and BGP is thus celebrating 50 years of Imvelo Yakitsi, our heritage, this year! In addition to the aforementioned achievements, since its conception Big Game Parks can also be credited with re-introducing over 22 species which had gone locally extinct and returning the national cultural symbols (the Lion and Elephant) to The Kingdom of Swaziland. As a nation we can be extremely proud of our achievements, so join us as we celebrate the events through the last 50 years with a line up of special events and more.


Celebrate with us




Discover the ins and outs of Swazi nature conservation up to and including the 1960s.

Downloadable 1960s Fact Files:


3.5 million years ago the earliest evidence of life on earth – blue-green algae; found fossilized in Fig Tree Series of the Swaziland System.

100 000 years ago, earliest known record of Homo sapiens – Beaumont, supervised by Prof Raymond Dart – Border Cave, Lubombo Mountains

42 000 years ago – most ancient known mining activity of man – Ngwenya Iron Ore Mine (Beaumont/Dart)

1840’s Arrival of white settlers

1896 Rinderpest outbreak

Mid 1800s/Early 1900s Vermaak Concession - Southern Lowveld

1906 Hunting licenses granted for 1 GBP per season

1914 First World War

1918 3 Reserves (part of the Vermaak Concession)  de-proclaimed and sold at low rates to encourage return First World War soldier settlement

1930’s Wildebeest massacre

1940’s Impala Express - 1000 impala carcasses/week exported on wagons

1930’s-1960's Advent of agriculture Mlilwane is a 460 ha farm & McCreedy’s tin mine

1959 British Government declines T.E.Reilly’s proposal for national park system and Petros Ngomane arrives at Mlilwane

1960 Decision made to create Sanctuary at Mlilwane; fencing commences

1961 Re-introductions begin including Impala, zebra, waterbuck, ostrich and kudu.  Swaziland’s last roan antelope found in a snare near Hlane on  29th November. Mlilwane opens prematurely to the public.   W.W.F. International is launched by Prince Bernhard and Sir Peter Scott.

1962 Blesbuck introductions from Dundonald near Amsterdam, Transvaal


1963 The only warthog re-introduction ever made (at that time no warthogs existed anywhere in the Kingdom)


1964 July 12, Mlilwane officially opened by Hilda Stevenson-Hamilton.  First Nyala introduced to Mlilwane from Hluhluwe Game Reserve.


1965 First reintroduction of White rhinoceros from Natal Parks Board Film “Rhino Ride” produced by Howard Kirk to celebrate return of the rhino to Swaziland. First eland return to Swaziland from Postmasburg, N Cape. Ted Reilly gazetted as Swaziland's first Game Ranger – 20th December – and as a Forest Officer


1966 Reintroduction of giraffe - one pair donated by Natal Parks Board and sourced from Acornhoek. Mlilwane Proclaimed Swaziland’s first Game Sanctuary and Forest Reserve under the Game Act by General Notice no.4/1966. His Majesty, King Sobhuza II became Chief Patron of Mlilwane, accepted with the gift of an albino Red duiker. King Sobhuza ll relieved Chief Mlimi of custodianship of Hlane, appoints Reilly as Game Ranger for Hlane and to be his Royal Advisor on wildlife. The filming of “Jezebel”, an Anglia Survival production, by Howard Kirk commenced. Petros Ngomane was nearly murdered attempting to arrest a poacher at Mllilwane, sustaining lifelong injuries.


1967 Liz Reynolds (became Reilly 1969) travels to Europe and Slimbridge to meet HRH Prince Bernhard and Sir Peter Scott. Introductory letter from Peter Scott to Dr Rupert carried home. Dr Rupert purchases Nyonyane Estates with His Majesty’s (King Sobhuza II) blessing. Proclamation of Hlane – the second protected area in Swaziland.  Rangers at this time: Solomon Vilakati, Mdawu Mawelela, Nkontjo Vilane (still in service!), Jimson Dlamini, Ted Reilly, Petros Ngomane, Getemzu Kunene.  First successful introduction of Hippopotamus – Somersault arrives at Mlilwane from Kruger Park. Nkontsho Robert Vilane joins Ranger force.


1968 SA Nature Foundation (now WWF-SA) is founded by Dr Rupert, and adopts the purchase of land for Mlilwane as its very first project. Swaziland regains independence from Britain. More White rhinoceros reintroductions from Mfolozi to Mlilwane. Further white rhino reintroductions diverted to Hlane.


1969 30 April - First giraffe calf born in Swaziland for over 100 years – at Mlilwane. Mlilwane entrusted to a non-profit making trust. Mlilwane Farm is donated to the Mlilwane Trust by the Reilly Family. Anglo American purchases and donates Shonalanga Plains. S.A Nature Foundation grants to Mlilwane Trust a conditional usufruct in perpetuity over the Nyonyane Estates property.    

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Discover the ins and outs of Swazi Nature Conservation during the 1970s.

1970 Mlilwane North purchased and proclaimed, funded by (Ian Haggie, SANF, Anglo American Corporation, SA Wildlife Society and) Mlilwane Trustees.

1971 Reintroduction of Sable Antelope - Mlilwane Work starts on composing the SNTC Act

1972 Formation of Swaziland National Trust Commission (SNTC)

1973 MAJOR Ian Grimwood (under auspices of F.A.O) amends Act to accommodate and safeguard Mlilwane.  King Sobhuza II declines proposal to have Hlane proclaimed under SNTC Act. 

1974 Malolotja established, families resettled (see also 1978)

1975 Formation of National Environmental Education Programme (NEEP) at Mlilwane.  September - First Ngunis collected to save Swazi strain of cattle as pure breed, from extinction, taken to Mlilwane. Willem Van Riet helps with park planning (sponsored by SANF)

1976 Wildebeest population crash. Six buffalo from Addo donated by National Parks Board and released on Mlilwane; a second group of four released on Malolotja. Mlilwane North proclaimed. SNTC Act.

1977 1st April, Mlilwane proclaimed as a Nature Reserve under SNTC Act f 1972, as amended.

1978 Proclamation of Malolotja Nature Reserve

1979 Winnie the Hippo arrives from Whipsnade Zoo, England – donated by London Zoological Society, flight sponsored by SAA. November - First 1000 acres of Mkhaya purchased. National Protection Worthy Areas Survey. Mlawula established. Private approach made to Niven family, following which Blue Jay Ranch (“Ndzindza”) donated to SNTC.

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Discover the ins and outs of Swazi nature conservation during the 1980s.

1980 Mkhaya expands to provide a home base for the developing herd of Ngunis.

1981 Mkhaya’s unsuccessful application to SA Stud book for registration facilities for Nguni. Mlilwane first park proclaimed under SNTC Act. 1982. Mkhaya proclaimed and gazetted a Nature Reserve under the SNTC Act. Application to SA Stud book accepted for the Nguni as a developing breed .

1983 Film produced with Howard Kirk entitled “Custodians” and Imvelo Yakitsi (Our Heritage) Mkhaya Ngunis become the first and only registered Nguni breeder with S.A Stud book. March – first ever registered Nguni in SA by direct SA Stud Book entry Mkhaya promotes enlargement of Nguni interest and registration of breeders.

1985 12 July – Mlilwane’s 21st birthday, and Mlilwane Story, recording the History of Nature Conservation in Swaziland, published to celebrate the occasion.

1986 6 January - First reintroduction of elephant arrive at Mlilwane due to rain – Kruger orphans. They continue on to Mkhaya when roads permit. Coronation of King Mswati III. Nguni Breed Society formed with 25 registered breeders. Ted Reilly receives the first ever Rupert Foundation Gold Medal for outstanding achievements in Nature Conservation. King Sobhuza ll Medal awarded to Ted Reilly. First introduction of Tsessebe to Mkhaya.

1987 April - Second re-introduction of Elephant from Kruger, to Hlane and Mkhaya. December - First reintroduction of Black Rhino, from Zambezi Valley. Kim Wolhunter arrests Samuel Earnshaw (prominent lawyer) for poaching. Court records go missing. Wolhunter falls fowl of SNTC leadership. Prince Bernhard awarded Ted Reilly Royal Order of Golden Ark.

1988 April – Dr. Rupert and Prince Bernhard visit Mkhaya for first time. Reintroduction of Roan Antelope from Namibia. Wolhuter resigns from SNTC. Reilly resigns in protest from SNTC Board & as SNTC Commissioner. Royal Warrant issued to Ted Reilly in game control and export/import. Royal Warrant authorising use of immobilants. Royal Warrant appointment of Rangers.

1988-1992 Rhino War - Swaziland lost nearly 80% of her rhinos during these four years.

Late 1990s. Japhane Magagula chopped to death by poachers.

1988 Benjamin Manyisa stabbed to death by a poacher at Hlane during attempted arrest.

1989 January – Ngwenya Glass Rhino Fund opened by Prettejohn family to assist rhino protection. Counsellor of Royal Order of King Sobhuza ll by King Mswati lll awarded to Ted Reilly.

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Discover the ins and outs of Swazi Nature Conservation during the 1990s.

1990 Petros Ngomane (4th) Rupert Foundation Gold Medal for outstanding achievements in Nature Conservation

1991 Game Act Amended in response to heavy poaching of all descriptions - especially rhinos.

1992 Brown Rhino – infamous case and public outrage – amended schedules to Game Amendment Act. Dehorning and confinement of Hlane rhinos to a high security area. First rhino poached at Mkhaya. Petros Ngomane: failed petrol bomb attack in his quarters on Hlane, as he slept.

5 April - Opening of Bhubesi camp – SA High Commission’s contribution to Hlane

1992 April - Big Bend Shoot out. Poaching brought under control. Re-introduction of Sable Antelope to Mkhaya. TER charged with contempt of court by the Chief Justice David Hull based on reading the press – acquitted.

1992-1993 - Most devastating of all droughts; Tssesebe almost died out, rhinos died, 200 000 cattle died, game displaced at waterhole by relentless insurgence of cattle. Livingstone's Eland introduced. His Majesty changes policy to allow culling for population management reasons. November – Jubela Reilly joins Ranger force full time. Non-Bailable Offences Act enacted and included Section 8 of the Game Act among other very serious crimes. December – last rhino poached until 2011.

1994 09 February - Lion reintroduced from Kruger to Hlane. Final introduction of elephants to Hlane and Mkhaya from KMP. Mantenga Nature Reserve proclaimed. Sondzela Opens – first Backpackers in Swaziland.

1995 Second re-introduction of Cheetah, from Namibia to Hlane. June - Leopard reintroduced to Hlane from Namibia. Six Black rhino introduced to Mkhaya from Mfolozi, sponsored by Republic of China on Taiwan, British Government, Engen and others.

1997 HRH Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands contributes land to Mkhaya. Opening of Sangweni by His Majesty King Mswati lll.First elephant calf born from re-introduced elephant at Mkhaya. His Majesty King Mswati III becomes Patron of Mlilwane and Mkhaya.

1998 Big Game Parks challenges Minister on green chert mining in Malolotja - His Majesty stops the mine proceeding. Investiture of TER to UNEP Roll Of Honour (Global 500). Royal Command – transfer of Game Act to King’s Office (by government gazette). Game Act & International Conventions on wildlife administration and management delegated to Big Game Parks. October - Reilly’s Rock opens to the public with Prince Bernhard as its first guest.

1999 29 April - Lubombo Conservancy launch. Opened by Dr Anton Rupert. 2nd November – Prince Bernhard visits again.

1999/2000 Expansion of Mlilwane's southern boundary and Sondzela. Confiscated stone age artifacts, taken near Hlane.

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Discover the ins and outs of Swazi nature conservation during the 2000s.

2000 First Ngulube MTB Classic, with Rotary Club of Mbabane (Community projects)

2001 Botanical Garden / Endangered Species enclosure developed on Mlilwane Hill

2003  Businessman McIntyre tried with 5 others for rhino horn trafficking in a high profile High Court case which sets legal precidents. Reintroduction of oribi, vaal rhebok, suni, blue duiker to Mlilwane Hill. Reintroduction of suni to Mkhaya.   Chubeka Trails formed under Mlilwane. Petros Ngomane & Assiena Msibi retire. Former Mkhaya Game Reserve Head Ranger, Ndzimandze, died. Ngulube MTB Classic changed to Imvelo MTB Classic. 2003/09 Exported black rhino to SANP (Marakele) & Timbavati.

2004/06 Wildebeest to Sabi and Nyala to KZN SA.

2005-13  Non Bailable Offenses act removed in 2005 - unconstitutional. Mkhaya expands from 7,600 ha - 10,000 ha. Richard Dlamini (Lonjwaleza) murdered by poachers. Law suits levied against rangers - law enforcement increased. Promotion and push for private game farms and conservancies. Elephant export to USA courtesy of San Deigo & Lowry Park Zoos (ZSSD AND LPZ). Wild lion traverses through Swaziland - one taken to Hlane, other one shot.

2006/07 White rhino brought in from Sabi Sands for genetic diversity.

2009 Elephant vasectomy at Hlane & Mkhaya - Disney World and San Deigo Zoo. Hlane Restaurant inaugarated by Swazi monarchy.


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Discover the ins and outs of Swazi Nature Conservation during the 2010s.

2010 Joint operation with RSP and Interpol – Operation Mogatle targeting wildlife trafficing (22 arrests made). Wisteria Camp built at Hlane. Hippo & Crocodile Project with Cologne Zoo. 2011 Hippo rescued from pothole.


2011 Swazi Kids community projects undertaken; Hlantambita, Mhlavatsini boreholes and tanks.

2011/12 6 June - lost 1st white rhino cow to poaching in almost 20 years when in the same year South Africa loses 448 rhino to poaching (young calf lost to premature weaning and environmental stress) 5 arrested. 27 September - lost 2nd white rhino cow to poaching (pregnant). 3 poachers die in shoot out. Swaziland Game Ranchers Association created. Kirky’s Hide built at Mkhaya’s Stone Camp in memory of Howard Kirk. Imvelo Community Project launches Hlabazonke water system. Frankfurt Rhino; Joint operation with RSP and Interpol deemed Operation Worthy. 2 Elephant from Mozambique traverse Swaziland via Pigg’s Peak and return through Hlane.

2013  2 Vagrant buffalo from Mphumalanga shot. Ground hornbill reintroduced to Reilly’s Rock. Aligned with SA, defending CITES proposal against sustainable use. Nguni Cattle Breed Society became the biggest in SA.  2013 Sumatran Rhino Summit in Singapore. Suni releases 70 animals at Mkhaya over 8 years. 2013 Game introductions to Usuthu Gorge Transfrontier Park on SA side from Hlane & Mkhaya - nyala, impala, wildebeest, zebra and kudu. Staff Commendations - Cindzi, Gamedze, Dumisa Mamba, Patrick Mamba, Richard Gamedze, Japhane Magagula and Petros.

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The lion, Ngwenyama, is the symbol of the King of Swaziland.

The symbolic significance lies deep in Swazi tradition, thus it was always a dream to return both the lion and the elephant to the kingdom for the Swazi people, and to restore the cultural symbolism of the Monarchy.


Lion were hunted out during colonial times and it is recorded that King Sobhuza ll saw Swaziland’s last wild lion in the 1960’s at Hunter’s Rock, Hlane Royal National Park. On the 9th of February, 1994, lion were reintroduced to Hlane Royal National Park and welcomed by His Majesty, King Mswati lll. Today, school children from across Swaziland can once more see live lions in a natural setting.

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The Matriarch Elephant symbolizes Her Majesty, Queen Mother of Swaziland - Mother of the Nation.

Yet another animal hunted out during colonial times, elephant were reintroduced first to Mkhaya Game Reserve (1985) as a trial and then to Hlane Royal National Park (April 1987). These were part of the Kruger orphan relocation programme, before the tough lesson on juvenile delinquency became apparent. Healthy breeding herds have been established on both parks over the years.


All of Swaziland’s parks are in truth too small for elephant which have too severe an impact on small parks. The Hlane and Mkhaya herds are symbolic and are kept to a minimum with the successful relocation of 11 elephants to San Diego Zoo and Lowry Park Zoo in the USA (2005). Through the zoo relationship, Disney sponsored the vasectomy of 7 elephant bulls in Swaziland in 2009 in an attempt to curb the breeding without impacting the behaviour of the herd. This is seen as a preferred contraception method as it results in less behavioural changes compared to other options. While this has been successful, the herds are growing and the current elephant population remains too large for the parks to accommodate. We are working with conservation partners to identify a safe, long-term home for some of the elephants while continuing to manage smaller herds in the parks themselves.


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Swaziland's rhino story is fascinating.

Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary was officially opened to the public in 1964 and the following year became the recipient of Natal Parks Board’s Rhino distribution programme. White Rhino had reduced to about 40 animals in South Africa, and dedicated conservation efforts by NPB saw this population boom. It was decided that the best chance for survival was to spread viable populations wherever possible. White Rhino returned to Swaziland (Mlilwane) as early as 1965.


In 1968, more rhino were donated and diverted to Hlane Royal National Park. The Hlane population exploded resulting in a natural dispersal, as far as Mozambique. 20 animals settled on Hlane and increased to over 110 by 1982. Again they dispersed due to grazer competition reducing the number to approximately 35 and a weaner dispersal programme in 1984 began populations in 3 other Swazi parks.


In 1986 black rhino were reintroduced to Mkhaya Game Reserve from Zimbabwe. By 1988, the beginning of Swaziland’s first Rhino War (1988 - 1992), white rhino numbers had again doubled. The first seizure of horn and ivory occured at Matsapha airport in April 1988. Swaziland lost her first rhino to commercial horn poachers in November 1988. What ensued for the next 4 years was a tale of deceipt, corruption, a dark and dangerous underworld, inexplicable happenings topped with hero’s of no ordinary measure. This deeply trying time was won only by the sincere and unrelenting support of His Majesty King Mswati lll.  Amendments were drafted to the Game Act, which stuck in Parliament for some time while rhino were slaughtered relentlessly. Finally, the Game Act was amended in 1992, making it arguably the toughest wildlife law in the world. Swaziland lost her final rhino in December 1992.


Currently, rhino poaching has escalated to just under 3 rhinos poached per day in South Africa. Swaziland holds the impresive record of no rhinos lost to poaching from December 1992 until a cow was shot in June 2012, orphaning her calf. Three arrests were made within 3 days, but bail granted. In September 2012 the same poaching syndicate returned, killing another pregnant cow. Law enforcement was quick and effective and Swaziland made its mark as non-tolerant of rhino poaching with the case being solved in 20 hours. However, rangers remain vigilant and proactive as the pressure grows daily. King Mswati lll and Big Game Parks are serious about saving Swaziland’s rhino for posterity.

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Vultures are an essential player in maintaining healthy ecosystems.

They are known to fly hundreds of kilometers in a single day, catching thermals in search of food. Vultures know no boundaries or borders. Their existence has been severely threatened on a regional scale by the poisoning of small livestock carcasses in an attempt by farmers to manage both stock theft and predation.


Swazi vultures have succumbed to poisoning in South Africa. Furthermore, vultures are sought after for muti – traditional medicine. Research has shown that Hlane Royal National Park has the highest density of tree-nesting vultures in the world, and that the distribution of nests literally ends along the fence line – vultures respond to hard boundaries and formal protection. Hlane and Mkhaya support white-backed, lappet-faced, hooded and white-headed vultures, with sightings of Cape vulture being recorded.

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The now popular Nguni was once frowned upon as a lesser breed due to its medium size.

In the 1970’s King Sobhuza lamented the disappearance and contamination with foreign breeds of the indigenous Nguni cattle.


In response to this, Ted & Liz Reilly began a country-wide search, visiting dip tanks and homesteads in search of pure Ngunis. They were hard to come by.  Liz Reilly’s sharp eye was trained by invaluable insight and knowledge was gained by rural Swazi cattlemen, Mandathane Ndzimandze being the star.


The beginnings of this herd was kept on Mlilwane Farm until Mkhaya was purchased and the herd moved. 


In 1981, Mkhaya applied to South African Stud Book for registration facilities for Nguni, which was denied on the grounds of Nguni not being a recognised breed.  In 1982 Mkhaya's application succeeded as a developing breed and the Mkhaya herd was the first registered with South African Stud Book.  Following serious publicity and promotion by Mkhaya, the Nguni Breeders Society was formed in 1986.  Many Nguni stud farms around South Africa and Namibia were built from Mkhaya foundation stock.


In 2013, the Nguni Cattle Breed Society became the biggest in South Africa.


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Roan antelope are the second largest antelope in Africa after the eland. Learn more about Big Game Parks Roan Antelope Project.

Historically, roan antelope (Hippotragus equinus) were widely distributed in small herds over a large part of Swaziland. They became locally extinct when Swaziland lost its very last free-ranging roan antelope to poaching in 1961. Roan have become extremely rare across their entire natural range. The reason for their demise is probably a combination of factors which include poaching, diminishing range, stress-induced disease, predation, and competition by high density species.


A very small, re-introduced group of roan is battling it out at Mkhaya Game Reserve - a refuge for threatened and endangered species. This population has not flourished because, we believe, it started as too small a founder population in a tick hostile environment where recruitment has for years been countered by mortality; this, coupled with the fact that there has been a skewed bull-calf birth ratio to heiffers, has not helped the population to viability. This group currently comprises 3 females and 1 bull.


Also, the Theileria impact on roan has hitherto not been fully understood. It has recently been discovered from work done by Dr Johan Steyl under the supervision of Prof. Leon Prozesky of the Onderstepoort Veterinary Faculty of the University of Pretoria that the tickborne disease Theileriosis is a major limiting factor of roan antelope. The South African game farming community has spent a fortune in purchasing roan, only to experience massive mortality caused by the red-legged tick - this being the vector of the Theileriosis that roan are susceptible to. 


Big Game Parks has not the resources to purchase a large enough nucleus as a founder population and like many other conservation agencies and game farmers, has started with very few animals, resulting in stagnation/non-viability or complete failure.


Back to Africa is a non-profit organisation whose founder and chief executive, Dr Hamish Currie of Cape Town, is pursuing a mission to restore threatened and endangered species from successful zoos to wild African habitats where these species formaerly existed. Compatibly, zoos are increasingly subscribing to a philosophy of returning to the wild former populations of species which have been depleted or exterminated in their former habitats. Such projects are known as in-situ conservation projects, and this concept has added enormous conservation and social value to the purposes of zoos. To give an example of successful in-situ conservation projects which have saved species from certain extinction: the last remnant of Arabian oryx was caught in the wild and translocated to Phoenix Zoo, Arizona. So successful was this zoo in propagating Arabian oryx that founder populations have since been re-established back in Arabia and in Oman from nuclei the Pheonix Zoo was able to propagate. Here in Swaziland our own hippo population was started with the help of a hippo heifer donated by Whipsnade Zoo as a mate to a solitary bull at Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. The pair flourished and bred, and though hippo were later added from other sources, they are now a feature of all our parks.


After a great deal of preliminary planning, Hamish Currie procured 4 roan antelope (1 male and 3 female) as a donation to Mkhaya from Dr John Knowles, founder of Marwell Zoo in Winchester, England. They arrived at Mlilwane where the project is being conducted on 24th December 2004. The following year in November, another 5 roan antelope (1 male and 4 female) arrived. A third and final consignment was due in December 2006. Unfortunately, after the retirement of Dr Knowles from Marwell Zoo, this final delivery did not materialise, leaving us with a total of 9 English animals which were 7th and 8th generation zoo-born. Two of these were bulls, which were, for genetic purposes, removed and replaced with Mkhaya bulls. Disease management is being directed by Dr Johan Steyl.


The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) has endorsed this project unconditionally and so has the World Association of Zoos and Aquaria (WAZA). The breeding program has attracted site inspections by Dr John Knowles, the then Director of Marwell Zoo, the Chief Executives of both WAZA and PAAZAB (Pan African Association of Zoos and Aquaria) and later, by Lynn Stafford, the Deputy Director of Marwell Zoo - all of whom give it the thumbs up. Dana Holeckova and Jeru Vanbera from Dvurkralova Zoo near Prague in the Czech Republic  inspected the project in situ and donated a further 4 female roan antelope in January 2008. Back to Africa pays for the translocation costs from UK/Europe to Swaziland. Big Game Parks picks up the costs from the time they arrive in Swaziland. 


In 2001 a further 2 bulls were purchased at an auction in South Africa from a gene-pool of pure South African roan to further enhance the gene-pool and which are naturally adapted to Theileriosis.


The purpose of this highly costly and tightly managed project is to propagate salted animals for onward distribution to other protected areas where new populations can be established. Mlilwane North and Mkhaya were the first recipients of roan from the project, which Dr John Knowles says is the best in situ conservation project Marwell Zoo has ever been involved with.


View also:

Small Antelope & Endangered Species Program

Read more on the Back to Africa website



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Small Antelope

Click here to learn about our small antelope and endangered species program.

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Click here for information regarding Big Game Parks National Mandate; The Game Act and CITES

The Game Act and CITES are positioned officially under the office and portfolio of the Head of State. Swaziland is fortunate to have Nature Conservation officially elevated to King’s Office level. The Head of State has delegated the administration and responsibility of the Game Act to Big Game Parks, whose mandate includes permitting, representing Swaziland on wildlife issues, CITES etc and law enforcement. All of this is funded from the self-generated revenues of BGP, making it essential for this institution to be self-sustaining. 


Relevant Copies of Documentation:




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Permitting: Requirements

Permits are required from BGP for any hunting, harvesting, import, export, translocation, moving, confinement, capture and possession of wildlife or CITES products within Swaziland.

Permits are required for (as per The Game Act):


  • All movements of scheduled species or parts thereof to destinations within Swaziland, or being exported from, or being imported into, Swaziland;
  • All carcasses or parts thereof, of scheduled species being translocated to destinations within Swaziland;
  • The capture and conveyance of live scheduled species between destinations;
  • The hunting, culling and possession of scheduled species or parts thereof, within Swaziland;
  • The keeping of scheduled species in captive circumstances;
  • To accredited game capture operators, permits to operate in Swaziland
  • Any scheduled species or products thereof being transited through Swaziland


The Game Act also allows owners of land to hunt Schedule lll species (Common Game) in season (01 May to 31 August) without a permit on their land.


Under the provision of CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), and as implied by this title, permits are issued by Big Game Parks for:


  • All species of fauna and flora, all products thereof from all areas of the world, which are listed in the CITES appendices, which are either imported into Swaziland or exported out of Swaziland, or transited through Swaziland.

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Permitting: Procedure

Click here for a step by step permit application guide

1. Email Big Game Parks' CITES Management Authority (Conservation Department) to initiate Permit Procedure and include as an attachment in your email a) a completed relevant CITEs and Game Act permit application form as provided below and b) evidence of providence (proof of legal possession by origin, possesion or import and the written authority of land owners) as applicable.



2. Await Permit Authorisation.

Note further clarification and information may be requested before permits are issued.


3. Seek reciprocal permits as required for export/import from the other country including:

  • Veterinary
  • Nature Conservation of national authority body
  • CITES 






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BGP Bird Species List

Click here for a downloadable BGP bird species list.

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BGP Mammal Species List

Click here for a downloadable BGP Mammals Species List.

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BGP Amphibian Species List

Click here for a BGP Amphibians species list.

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BGP Reptile Species List

Click here for a BGP Reptile Species List.

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Biodiversity, Conservation & Climate Change

Discover Big Game Parks views on biodiversity, nature conservation and climate change.

After a very brief exposure of 50 years to the realities of nature, which also represents the entire time from the beginnings of practiced formal nature conservation/preservation management in Swaziland, Big Game Parks (BGP) submits its own views on the subjects of biodiversity and climate change.

We don’t pretend to know anything about climate change, nor do we have any formula with which to address it. All we know is that nature is never static. It never stands still. It has its natural ups and downs, its peaks and troughs, its droughts and floods, its benign periods and harsh periods, and all its extremes.

It might be said that there is no such thing as the "balance of nature". We prefer to describe the balance of nature as the mean average of its extremes in peaks and troughs; but there is one formula which helps mitigate nature’s extremes. That formula is to do with carrying capacity of habitats: half stock = full profit; full stock = half profit; overstock = no profit. This formula, used as a guiding management tool, will usually soften the impact of natural extremes in hard times and soften catastrophes of mass stock losses in droughts. It is all about space, resources, and competition. A simple analogy:- an orange shared by two people is meaningful, the same orange shared between 10 people is less meaningful; shared amongst 100 people it becomes totally meaningless.

We believe implicitly in evolution and are great disciples of Darwin. So, while fully conceding the damaging consequences of pollution, accelerated erosion, the enormous environmental abuses heaped upon the planet by mankind and the negative impact of too many people, we ask the question – is climate change not simply an evolutionary event?

Our policy on responding to nature’s impact is common sense and pragmatism in order to survive.

• We believe in nature implicitly; in its benign stages, its harsh stages and in its intermediary stages, because we have lived with it all our lives and have seen first hand the realities of its impact on everyday life.
• We believe in the sustainable utilisation of self-renewing natural resources, and in their survival values to mankind.
• We also believe in limits to growth and that all associated living things live in competition with each other – even species of the same grasses compete side by side for nutrients, space, light, air and moisture.
• We do believe generally that, within the foregoing, stability is supported by diversity, and BGP is pragmatic in its approach to habitat management.

On Biodiversity – BGP offers the following as its own understanding of the realities around conserving it: it should be remembered that man’s time on earth represents an almost invisible dot on the world’s timeline in terms of the presence of life on earth, and that more species had gone extinct before his appearance than after this momentous event. Survival in today’s world requires management, both proactive and reactive according to circumstance, and this shapes our views on biodiversity.

Conservation of biodiversity has become fashionable but in all truth, it is not compatible with overpopulation of people and their material needs. Dropping fences and opening up resources to communities for access and benefit sharing and co-management will not escape the inevitable plunder which automatically follows the softening of hard boundaries and security, nor can resources be sustainably locked away from a hungry mob and the greed of man. It is futile chasing ‘nice ideas’ which are not sustainable or have no relevance in practicality and real life. It is also not clever to create expectations which do not materialise. It is an unfortunate truth that money is the root of all evil. But in today’s world, it is a necessary evil. One cannot eat without it. nor can one conserve without it.

Having said this, BGP’s policy is to conserve as large a spectrum of biodiversity as is SENSIBLY possible, but subject to whatever qualifications enable and accommodate the purposes for which conservation is practised and managed within the realms of economic viability.

The diminutive size of Swaziland allows no cushion for mistakes and correction in relation to the pressures on the Kingdom’s resources. All of this makes conservation a complicated and sensitive undertaking, which is not without risk.

Nature conservation is a very expensive undertaking. The material yields of high levels of non-consumptive biodiversity in natural habitats are simply not lucrative enough to support and pay for nature conservation. Therefore, inevitably, habitats have to be simplified to increase both consumptive and non-consumptive biomass yields which can then be harvested to help satisfy the economic imperatives required to conserve them – at the cost of reduced biodiversity. Classic existing natural examples of simplified habitats are the Serengeti Plains in East Africa and the Liuwa Plains in Western Zambia where sweeping veld fires and edaphic determinants limit the levels of biodiversity by maintaining dominant grazing regimes which support enhanced yields of biomass. Simplifying habitats with monoculture and fire or even a once-off extraction of mature timber from indigenous forests (albeit unsustainable) can be far more lucrative than maintaining the full natural spectrum of biodiversity of such habitats – this is why people do it! Closer to home, the adjoining South African plateau has been made more lucrative by being simplified and converted to maize and other crop lands, to produce greater yields from consumable biomass than it did before. This is also true for Swaziland, with its prime example of sugar plantations swallowing up the bushveld and commercial timber plantations smothering the highveld grasslands.

So, in the real world, it is glib and unrealistic to say "Protect biodiversity at all costs!" It simply is not going to happen, because the world is compelled to accommodate the needs and the greed of man at this point in time. And the realities of uncontrolled human sprawl over virgin lands are inimical to nature, for, as far as human sprawl spreads, nature dies. We also have to live within the limitations imposed by nature.

The management challenge for custodians of game reserves and game ranches is to maintain a large enough sample of game, both in quantity and variety, to sufficiently enhance harvesting and viewing values in order to satisfy the economic imperatives of unsponsored viability, and the realities of growing competition protected areas are increasingly having to face. This entails simplifying habitats to favour grassveld and savannah at the cost of reducing biodiversity – grass being the most productive primary forage of sustainable terrestrial biomass, which is what paying tourists come to see – and eat!

So the conservation realities of promoting and protecting biodiversity in real life have to be measured, qualified, and balanced against the purpose for which they are being protected, and the costs involved. And these are management decisions made in conjunction with policy determinants and economic imperatives.

It is therefore entirely fitting that there be multiple management options open to game ranchers, and to custodians of PAs, and that each individual custodian’s management style and integrity remains un-fettered and un-interfered with, within the law. This in turn requires both a legal-friendly and an investor-friendly environment within which to perform. So the last thing wanted, is to be smothered and choked by reams of impractical bureaucratic legislation with red tape and overregulation or by the ‘nice ideas’ of some notable idealists whose survival depends on fundraising, because this only complicates and frustrates an otherwise simple but common-sense approach to managing nature conservation. Rather, just keep it simple and practical and user-friendly. Then let those who fail, fall by the wayside and encourage those who succeed. Recognise what viably works and what doesn’t, and don’t try to fix what isn’t broken!

Those who succeed will provide for those who fail through jobs and taxes, within practical parameters of the realities of economics and limits to growth. Until we learn to tackle the principal cause of the world’s woes – overpopulation – and not the results, all attempts at protecting biodiversity will ultimately be futile. And we must not pretend otherwise. Doing so causes disinvestment, bankruptcy, job loss and decadence. It is as simple as that. And it doesn’t need rocket science and the production of reams of complicated paperwork to figure it out!

We must not be blinded and misled by fashionable, impressive sounding slogans like "international best practice" because what is good for one is not necessarily good for another. And Western values differ substantially from Eastern or African values, while all may be valid in their own environments.

Therefore, project proposals for Swaziland must be realistic for Swaziland, pragmatically possible, simple and functional. And they must not ignore prevailing realities on the ground or the realities of human behaviour – or misbehaviour! And we must be quick to question statements like "it is accepted that…" – accepted by whom?! We must resist and reject having solutions imposed upon Swaziland, which do not suit Swaziland. And Swaziland must be the judge of what is good for Swaziland and what is not, regardless of so-called "international best practice"!

What could be simpler than to encourage the protection of as broad a spectrum of biodiversity as is practically, sensibly, economically, politically, socially and realistically possible if the political will exists to support it?


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Swaziland's proposal to CITES is for a limited and regulated legal trade in its own white rhino horn, which could generate an estimated sustainable annual income of $1.2 million without killing a single rhino




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Filming & Media Policy

Member of the media? Click here for information regarding filming, photographing or recording within Big Game Parks

If you intend to film, photograph or record within Big Game Parks, please adhere to the following procedure:


1. Read and ensure your project adheres to our Media/Filming Policy 

2. Send us an email including the following attachment

3. Await for Authoristion and Further Instructions


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BGP Press Releases

Click the Read More button to discover our latest press releases...

20/03/14 - Press Release Covering:

  • Thuli Brillance Makama & Yonge Nawe
  • John Antonelli & Mill Valley Films
  • Documentaries 'The Killing Seasons' (now 'Unfair Game') & 'Cries in the Wild'
  • The Goldman Foundation, The Goldman Prize & Douglas Consulting Ltd

Read the full article here

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Ngwenya Glass

Learn more about the Ngwenya Glass Rhino & Elephant Fund.

Ngwenya Glass is a famous Swaziland export, producing exciting and creative recycled glass products that are underpinned by the very essence of sustainability and environmental ethics. From these ethics the Kingdom's most successful conservation fund was launched in 1989; the Ngwenya Rhino & Elephant Fund, which has assisted in the protection of Rhino and Elephant in the face of sustained attacks on these iconic species.


The funds have been utilised by Big Game Parks in a number of ways including (but not limited too):


  • Animal transport and immobilization and treatments
  • Anti-poaching projects (Staff training & Recruitment)
  • Payment of rewards to poaching informants
  • Observation Tower Construction
  • Equipment Procurement


Combating poaching is a massive drain on resources, particularly for a private not-for-profit Trust which relies on tourism receipts in the absence of government subsidies. The Ngwenya Rhino & Elephant Fund provides much needed monetary support to assist us in preserving Swaziland's natural heritage and keep the threat of extinction at bay. 


A percentage of Ngwenya Glasses’ world-wide sales are contributed to this fund. 


View also:

The Prettejohn Family & The Ngwenya Rhino Fund


Visit the Ngwenya Glass Website


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Wild Program

Big Game Parks (Hlane Royal National Park, Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary and Mkhaya Game Reserve) are part of the Wild Card Program.

What is a Wild Card Membership?


A Wild Card Membership gives you unlimited access to most of Southern Africa’s premier conservation areas depending on the type of cluster you choose. Membership is valid from date of purchase for 365 days and is available for an individual, couple or family (family: any two adults and up to five children under the age of 18 years). International Wild Card Membership is also available for our international guests.


How can I get free entry into Big Game Parks?


If you purchase an All Parks Cluster or Swaziland's Big Game Parks Cluster you will not have to pay the conservation entry fee when entering Hlane Royal National Park, Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary or Mkhaya Game Reserve for the duration of your membership.


How do I become a Wild Card Member?


To purchase your Wild Card or obtain further information about the program simply contact Big Game Parks' Central Reservations Team or visit the Wild Card Website for full information relating to Wild Card Membership

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Discover the people who have had a personal material hand in the creation and conservation of Big Game Parks.

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Your interest in supporting Big Game Parks and her conservation projects is highly appreciated. Click to view current projects in need of support.

Big Game Parks is a private not-for-profit Trust and with no government subsidy is reliant on tourism receipts for sustainability. Your potential assistance is much appreciated and will help to safeguard Swaziland's natural heritage, as well as create huge add-on community benefits and opportunities.


Below are listed some of Big Game Parks' larger projects in need of support:


Hlane Royal National Park

  • Range Expansion
  • Digital Radio Change Over
  • Educational Facilities
  • Fencing
  • Alien Vegetation Control
  • Staff Housing
  • Roads, Bridges & Culverts
  • Game Holding Bomas
  • Game Viewing Hides
  • Purchase of Tractor
  • Purchase of Vehicles 
  • Administrative Office Contruction


Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary

  • Range Expansion
  • Educational Facilities
  • Fencing
  • Alien Vegetation Control
  • Staff Housing
  • Water Reservoirs & Reticulation
  • Rare Species Purchase & Establishment
  • Roads & Bridges
  • Purchase of Tractor
  • Developing Chubeka Horseback Trails
  • Continued Development of Royal Botanical Gardens
  • Game Viewing Hides
  • Purchase of Vehicles
  • 2 x Self-Contained Accommodation Units


Mkhaya Game Reserve

  • Range Expansion
  • Covered Storage Area
  • Educational Facilities
  • Fencing
  • Alien Vegetation Control
  • Staff Housing
  • Roads & Bridges
  • Main Gate Complex Construction
  • Purchase of Tractor
  • Rare Species Purchase & Establishment
  • Water Conservation Facility
  • Game Viewing Hides
  • Purchase of Vehicles
  • Digital Radio Change-over


Big Game Parks

  • Ranger Recruitment & Training
  • Digital Radio Change-over
  • Anti-poaching Investigation/Operations Equipment
  • Administrative Office Expansion
  • Front-end loader, grader and tipper truck for shared use in all the parks for road maintenance and erosion control
  • Back-up generator 350kva, in anticipation of powercuts from RSA (The solar power alternative is being seriously studied)


Any interest in contributing to any of the above projects will be responded to with a detailed project proposal together with a business and implementation plan. Kindly email our Conservation Department who will be more than happy to assist with donations of any size.

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About the 50th

On the 12th July 1964, Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary opened to the public. This day marked the beginning of formal conservation in the Kingdom of Swaziland.

At the time Swaziland was still a British Protectorate (Independence 1968). The country’s wildlife resource had been severely depleted and existed in remnant herds, largely on private farms. During the 50’s, Man was still taming Africa, infiltrating the wild areas in the hope of commercialising cattle farming and agriculture. Wildlife was seen as vermin, a threat to the economic wealth of the country and thus there was no willingness to embrace the concept of conservation.

One man, Ted Reilly, had watched the demise of Swaziland’s wildlife heritage. His experiences across the border in both South Africa and Zambia reminded him of how wild Africa could be. Reilly dreamed of a park system for Swaziland, safeguarding the rich diversity and beautiful landscapes. First, he approached the British Government, to no avail. He then approached King Sobhuza ll, who whole-heartedly supported the concept.

Conservation in Swaziland had a shaky and humble beginning. It came down to a King’s incredible support, one man, his farm, a very loyal yet small ranger force and, literally, one Land Rover. From 1960 Mlilwane was established over a number of years, with habitat modification and relocating animals one-by-one. Passion, tenacity, commitment and huge personal sacrifice built what constitutes Swaziland’s park system today.

The concept of conservation took route at Mlilwane, leading on to Hlane Royal National Park, the establishment of the Swaziland National Trust Commission and their three parks and Mkhaya Game Reserve. Big Game Parks was then established as a private organisation, encouraging the establishment of game ranches such as Mbuluzi, Nisela, Phophonyane and the like. The unbending support of His Majesty King Mswati lll has made this all possible.

Big Game Parks is celebrating 50 years of Imvelo Yakitsi this year! It has been a long and interesting road and we as a nation can be extremely proud of what has been achieved. Join us as we celebrate the events through the last 50 years. Regular articles will soon appear in the newspaper, on our website ( and various exciting events will be held over the months leading to July 12th 2014.

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Family Days

In celebration of 50 years of Conservation, Big Game Parks is launching a series of Family Days at which children under 13 years will be given free access to Hlane Royal National Park and Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary. Pre-booking is essential.

Big Game Parks invites families to spend a full day on our parks, enjoying nature and celebrating this incredible milestone. Our newly developed Kiddies menus are available in our restaurants at both Hlane and Mlilwane. Children need to be under the supervision of responsible adults and all normal rules apply.

Big Game Parks Family Days will take place every second weekend of the month from February to June 2014:

Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary's Family Days:
Saturday 8th February
Saturday 8th March
Saturday 12th April
Saturday 10th May
Saturday 14th June

View Schedule

Hlane Royal National Park's Family Days:
Sunday 9th February
Sunday 9th March
Sunday 13th April
Sunday 11th May
Sunday 15th June

View Schedule

Exciting educational activities kick off with face painting at 13h00. An open craft table will be available, exploring the art of reusing rubbish. Our field guides will be hosting fun child-specific nature-based activities for a limited number of children between 14h00 and 16h30, for which prebooking through Big Game Parks Central Reservations is essential. These limited activities will attract a fee of E60 per child.  

To book please call +268 2528 3943/4 or email

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Mlilwane means Little Fire in siSwati, and as our very own little fire turns 50 this year, it joins hands with its neighbour, MTN BUSHFIRE, to turn up the heat during the celebrations!

The Kingdom of Swaziland's Big Game Parks celebrates 50 years of Imvelo Yakitsi/our heritage this year, since the inaugaration of Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary 'little fire'. So we couldn't think of a better collaboration than with our neighbour; MTN BUSHFIRE!


Early evening entertainment is planned in collaboration with MTN BUSHFIRE to round off the day at our 50th Celebration Family Days, together with community skill share initiatives and celebrations on the big day itself, 12th July 2014.


Follow our 50th Celebration Blog to stay tuned for the latest updates.

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12th July 2014

The 12th July 2014 is the big day representing 50 years of Imvelo Yakitsi - our heritage. Click here for the line up of events.

Follow up 50th Celebrations Blog to stay tuned with the latest updates.

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