Land Aggregation Opportunity Near Hoedspruit

An opportunity to create a new open ecosystem that will be the second largest Big 5 reserve in South Africa

The Ubuntu Project

“I am because we are.”

The Vision

The creation of a new 100 000 hectare open wildlife system to the north-west of Hoedspruit, South Africa.

By developing a second, significant wildlife area in the lowveld separate from the Kruger National Park system, we open up more than 100 000ha of existing Big-5 land. This can be achieved simply by dropping fences and implementing one over-arching conservation plan.

The Area

  • Consists of a number of fenced areas from 500ha to 26 00ha
  • Is already primarily Big 5
  • Has no settlements
  • Is privately owned with the majority of owners potentially receptive to creating an open system.

Selati and Abelana together occupy 43 000ha, and are not currently included because they lie on the other side of the R526. Traversing corridors across (or over) the road would make a natural extension.

Comparative Analysis:

New reserve & Kruger National Park

Rainfall average of 450mm pa versus 700mm in Sabi Sands and 600mm in Thornybush
Similar river systems, terrain and more big trees
Similar animal and bird diversity and density
Variety of 4 – 5 star lodges, generally offering lower rack rates due to current “2nd tier” positioning of the area
Low encroachment from human noise and light pollution
Easy access from Johannesburg by road and Hoedspruit (Eastgate) by air + in-situ airfields over-arching conservation plan.

The Benefits


A larger open system provides varied habitats, and greater ecological biodiversity. It also facilitates less human interference and a more natural environment.

Ongoing elephant population management will ensure sustainable flora and fauna.


The majority of farms in the selected area are relatively small and, being outside the open KNP system, struggle to build a brand that can compete with reserves in the Sands, Thornybush and the Timbavati.

A big, open, branded reserve will stimulate tourism to the area and increase hospitality and conservation jobs and opportunities


Will benefit from the area becoming recognized as an alternative tourist destination to the Greater Kruger National Park. Instead of its current 2nd tier status, it will, over time, be seen to offer a more similar experience.

Further into the future, it could offer better trees and a more diverse ecosystem as a result of better elephant population management.

The Conservation & Traversing Model

Once fences are dropped, game will move freely within the open system

The traversing model will be the same as in Sabi Sands with owners able to traverse their own properties and (by mutual arrangement) on neighboring properties 

One conservation model will be applied across the entire open area with an
owner-representative board providing oversight. 

Cognizance will be taken of the Veterinary Procedural Notice for Foot and Mouth Disease Control of June 2012

Opportunity for Existing Landowners

Without existing landowner support, this vision will never be realized.

However, with the necessary support, the landowners have the power to quite quickly achieve a remarkable conservation goal:

the evolution of a significant, second, separate, open wildlife system in the lowveld
• the preservation of an important equilibrium between elephants and the balance of the ecosystem
• An area outside the currently demarcated red foot and mouth zone

Opco and Funding Requirements

Even with existing landowner support, it will be essential to have a purpose-driven legal entity to drive the project. This would add immediate value in the
following respects:

• Develop a constitution based on existing constitutions already in practice
within the area

• Systematically advance the project with owners, rangers and the community

• Incorporate Community interests and manage land claims

• Co-ordinate the creation of the combined brand

Funding would be limited and the opco would be run on a not-for-profit basis.

Propco and Funding Requirements

As the initiative gathers momentum, it is anticipated that a fund will be created for existing owners and other like-minded investors.

Investors would expect to realize an attractive return-on-investment as the discount to the adjacent open system is reduced.

James Whitehouse

James is a 59-year-old ex chemical engineer who owns a small private equity company called High Street Capital.

He has no land interest in the region and is not a development specialist.

He does, however, have a successful track record in delivering big projects  across a number of different sectors and with varied stakeholder interests.

He is passionate about the bush, and dedicated to opportunities to contribute to the rewilding process in South Africa.

His particular field of interest is in elephant population management where  he has initiated an association with Professor Graham Kerley towards a suitable masters in Ecological Science.

The role of James Whitehouse

While still involved a small number of private equity investments, James is relocating to Hoedspruit to focus on projects in the region.

His hope is to contribute to the realization of the new reserve discussed in this presentation in a facilitating and project management role.