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Where are we?

LEO Africa is located in the Marataba Section of the Marakele National Park, in the heart of the Waterberg Mountains, as its Tswana name suggests, has become a 'place of sanctuary' for an impressive variety of wildlife due to its location in the transitional zone between the dry western and moister eastern regions of South Africa.

Contrasting majestic mountain landscapes, grass-clad hills and deep valleys characterize the park. Rare finds of yellowwood and cedar trees, five metre high cycads and tree ferns, are some of the plant species found here. All the large game species from elephant and rhino to the big cats as well as an amazing variety of birds including what’s probably the largest colony of endangered Cape vultures (more than 800 breeding pairs) in the world, have settled here.

Marataba is a malaria-free 23000 hectare section within the Marakele National Park. Just four hours from Johannesburg, this is a sanctuary where busy people can find themselves again by connecting with nature. Marataba is just 3.5 hours drive from Johannesburg at the foothills of the Waterberg Mountains, and is not situated in a Malaria risk area.

Reserve location

Birdlife in the park is prolific with a species list of just over 400 species. Add to this the 2nd largest Cape Vulture breeding colony in the world with between 600 and 800 breeding pairs. This is a species that regularly occurs on the plains of Marataba especially when predators have left a kill to scavenge. The mountainous terrain is not only home to them but a healthy population of Verraux’s Eagle too. These are the largest eagles in Africa and are experts at hunting Rock Hyraxs. The plains, the waterways and variety of savannah types hold the greater abundance of species. The 2014 Big Birding Day on the reserve, where rangers on the reserve collectively sought after the most number of species in a 24 hour day, produced over 150 species for a relaxed days birding! Species include (to name just a few):

Gurney's sugarbird

• Gurneys Sugarbird
• Cape Vulture
• Half-collared Kingfisher
• White-backed Night-Heron
• Verraux’s Eagle-Owl
• Mountain Wagtail
• Ant-eating Chat

LEO Africa conservation volunteer programmes provide valuable research services for this reserve. The information is used to maintain a healthy ecosystem and restore this land to something resembling its former state of wilderness before Man initially intervened. The information is obtained through an intensive predator and wildlife monitoring programme, which offers you, the volunteer, an opportunity to learn about and contribute to conservation in one of the most diverse wildlife reserves in South Africa.

Reserve management in South Africa is a complex and evolving subject in South Africa. It involves everything from ecology to road maintenance, from species reintroduction to alien plant removal. It also includes more difficult and emotionally-charged issues such as animal relocation. One of LEO's goals is to expose volunteers to the complicated subject of conservation in the 21st century.