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Our mission is to enthuse students, guests and researchers to be passionate and responsible about conservation by showing them the beauty of the wildlife at Mankwe Wildlife Reserve, in the hope that they will leave with a deeper understanding of how all species, no matter how big or small, are essential to sustaining a healthy ecosystem. We strive to manage a healthy ecosystem where all species of fauna and flora are studied, researched and protected. Future generations will have the task of managing and repairing the damage done to the environment by previous generations and this can only be accomplished through education and awareness. 

Mankwe is a small family run, 4700 hectare nature reserve situated in the malaria free North West Province of South Africa, approximately 5km’s east of the Pilansberg National Park. Our main objective is education and research as we currently accommodate ten Universities and facilitate their ecology field courses as well as run seven Earthwatch research teams annually. We work closely with the community to create conservation awareness by establishing Wildlife Clubs in local schools and hosting conservation days on the reserve.


The reserve has two main camps; Waterbuck Camp which sleeps up to 36 guests and is situated on the banks of the Motolobo dam and Nkombi Camp which sleeps 12 volunteers and is situated in the heart of the reserve. Both camps are unfenced, game drives are done in open vehicles, and bush walks are regularly conducted on the reserve, enabling guests to have a true bush experience as well as live amongst the abundant wildlife as Mankwe boasts up to 53 species of large mammals, over 380 species of birds, 30 species of reptiles, 15 species of small mammals and 68 species dung beetles.

Mankwe has been hosting university field courses for the past 19 years and have earned the trust of many international universities with 10 international universities currently running ecology field-based courses at the reserve annually. The reserve is unique in that students are able to walk on the reserve and conduct research on all the fauna and flora the reserve has to offer. Students have the opportunity to tap into long term research projects and work with both scientists and experienced conservationists.


The groups are educated on all aspects of conservation and gain a holistic approach to managing a balanced and self-sustaining ecosystem. The Mankwe team are passionate about educating students on the importance of sustainability and ensuring that everyone leaves with a better understanding of nature and the importance to protect our natural world for future generations.

Universities are able to tailor make their field course itineraries to best suite their course objective, or they can make use of the field course offered by the reserve. Lectures and field work practical’s are facilitated by highly experienced conservationists, scientists and guides. Mini projects are encouraged at the end of the field course so that students can practically apply what they have learnt during field exercises and lectures.


The reserve can accommodate 36 students at a time and typically a course runs for 10 days to 2 weeks.




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Dougal Mactavish

Chief Warden

 Dougal MacTavish is owner and chief warden of Mankwe Wildlife Reserve. He started the reserve in 1996 and was responsible for the construction of the roads, dams and camps. He also introduced a number of different species of wildlife and has been responsible for creating a healthy ecosystem from a buffer zone around an explosives factory. Dougal is a master tracker and has a wealth of knowledge about conservation. Prior to Dougal's involvement with Mankwe he had many years’ experience with the wildlife department in Zimbabwe and has a passion for anti-poaching and conservation. 


He is a qualified CIS and has his FGASA level 1.


Lynne Mactavish

Operations Manager

 Dr Lynne MacTavish has worked at Mankwe Wildlife Reserve since 2000 as Operations Manager. She studied Travel and Tourism, has FGASA level 2, and was awarded an honorary doctorate of science in recognition of her major contribution to wildlife conservation in South Africa and promotion of conservation science at the highest level.  She is also a qualified first aider. Lynne has been one of  the Principal Investigators on the Earthwatch project and has lead 73 research teams. She finds being involved in research and education very rewarding and has recently been co-author on 13 publications.


Besides helping her Dad, Dougal, run the reserve Lynne co-ordinates all the student and Earthwatch groups. Lynne has a passionate desire to save the rhino's in South Africa and is involved with the Rhino Protection Unit. She also has a menagerie of orphaned animals that she is rehabilitating at her house.


Luke Levitt

Assistant Operations Manager

Luke is employed as Assistant Operations Manager by Mankwe and is also the owner of Nkombi Volunteer Programme, he has lived and worked at Mankwe Wildlife Reserve for most of his life. Luke studied  BCom Business Management at the University of Pretoria majoring in Marketing and Strategic Supply Management. Luke has a keen interest in conservation, his strengths are working with volunteers and students; he is very much a people’s person and is always willing to make volunteers feel at home.


Richie Fourie

Assistant Reserve Manager

Richie first came to Mankwe in 2017 as part of the University of Gloucestershire field course. He has a BSc in Animal Biology and a MSc by research, studying 'Comparison and Optimization of Nocturnal Surveying Techniques', is a qualified tracker and first aider. In March 2021 he began working full time at Mankwe as the assistant reserve manager. He now works on all aspects of reserve management, working with the conservation team to ensure reserve maintenance, training the anti-poaching K9s, anti-poaching response, as well as working with students and volunteers. Originally from South Africa Richie loves animals and the outdoors, he is always happy to help guests, volunteers or students to learn more about their surroundings no matter how big or small. 


Melissa Dawson

Research Coordinator

 Melissa first came to Mankwe Wildlife reserve in 2013 and has returned on and off since. She has a BSc in Biology from Durham University and a MScR on “The effect of burning on Invertebrates in a South African Savannah”. In May 2016 she began working full time as volunteer coordinator, but is now the research co-ordinator since starting her PhD in September 2019. She is also working towards her Level 1 Field Guide Qualification, is a fully qualified First aider and works as a Field Assistant for the Earthwatch Institute. Melissa has a great deal of experience in planning and carrying out research projects and will help students and volunteers with any personal projects for their university research. She is friendly, fun and is always there to help.

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Gareth Van Greune

Reserve Assistant

Gareth joined Mankwe in February 2021 as an Anti-Poaching scout and after showing promise he was offered a full-time position in June. He is involved with the training of the Anti-Poaching K9’s and works closely with Richie Fourie in performing various maintenance jobs throughout the reserve. Gareth is currently working towards attaining his Level 1 Field Guide Qualification. Gareth has an immense passion for working in the bush and all the daily events that go with it. He is always willing to help out where-ever is needed and always willing to answer any questions about the bush. Being the youngest staff member, he is keen to learn from his fellow more experienced staff members.

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