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The Reserve

The stunning landscapes and tranquil atmosphere make Bezhoek a truly special place to stay.

Bezhoek Private Nature Reserve has, in May 2021, been proclaimed a “Protected Area” in terms of the National Environmental Management Protection Act 57(Act 57 of 2003)

It is the proud recipient of “Irreplaceable Biodiversity” status, a title bestowed upon it because of the more than 100 grass species, cycad populations, red data flora, extensive river frontages, permanent wetlands and streams, riverine forestation, gorges, savannah plains, rocky outcrops, majestic cliffs and rock art, to which it is home.

Apart from the flora and fauna, Bezhoek is also home to a myriad of wildlife including leopard, hyena, giraffe, eland, sable, oribi and many other species which all roam freely within the 4500 hectare reserve. With more than 300 bird species, including the African Finfoot, Southern Bald Ibis and Denhams Bustard. Bezhoek Nature Reserve is a haven for wildlife lovers and birders alike.

Mpumalanga is comprised of three different biomes:

1. Grassland (occurring in the central highveld and escarpment regions and covering the bulk of the province),

2. Savanna (occurring on the foothills and plains) and

3. Forest (on south and east-facing slopes and in river valleys).

Whilst all three of these biomes are home to important and often unique biodiversity, it is in the grasslands that the bulk of Mpumalanga’s rare, endemic and threatened species and the all-important wetlands lie. These grasslands are critically important water producing landscapes, playing a vital role in maintaining the quality and quantity of water entering rivers, streams and aquifers. Despite their importance however, and the fact that the grasslands occupy just over 61% of the surface area of the province, they are currently the most at-risk and least well protected of Mpumalanga’s biomes.

The owners of Bezhoek Nature Reserve are committed to preserving and protecting the biodiversity of this jewel and will go to every effort and use all their resources to keep mining out. The intention is to eradicate all invasive and alien vegetation which compromise the grasslands and the Olifants River Valley. To date, hundreds of hectares of Black Wattle, Poplar Canensis and Bankrupt Bush have been removed and the grasslands rehabilitated with the support of donations from generous individuals and companies dedicated to the preservation of South Africa’s natural biodiversity.

Location

The Bezhoek Private Nature Reserve is just under a 2 hour drive from Johannesburg and Pretoria.   Whilst located just 25km outside of Middelburg and Witbank in Mpumalanga  there is no hint of any city activity once you arrive at Bezhoek.

4500 hectares of pristine nature is tucked away in the Olifants River valley, ready to be explored.

The Olifants River borders Bezhoek Nature Reserve on the West while the Klein Olifants traverses the Reserve in the North, making it the ideal destination for a weekend breakaway.

By appointment only.

Vegetation

Due to its location, Bezhoek Private Nature Reserve, situated in the transition area of the Lowveld and Highveld of Mpumalanga, boasts more variants of grass species than the Kruger National Park.

The cycad populations of both the critically endangered Encephalartos Middelburgensis and vulnerable Lanatus, the extensive river frontage, permanent internal wetlands and streams, riverine forestation, gorges, savannah plains, rocky outcrops and cliffs make the farm a jewel amongst the surrounding mines and maize fields and justify the Reserve’s “irreplaceable biodiversity” status, supported by the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT).

Cycads

The Bezhoek Private Nature Reserve is home to two cycad species of the Encephalartos genus – indigenous to South Africa and native to Africa:

The critically endangered Middelburgensis and the vulnerable Lanatus (more commonly referred to as the Woolly Cycad).

Both occur naturally in Mpumalanga in the catchment area of the Olifants River in the Middelburg, Witbank and Bronkhorstspruit districts.

This highveld grassland species occurs in sheltered rocky valleys that experience moderately hot summers and very cold frosty winters. The Middelburgensis, or Middelburg Cycad, distribution is limited to the Middelburg and Loskop dam areas.

Grasslands

Grasses are the dominant vegetation in many habitats, with grasslands accounting for over 25% of the planet’s land. They also occur as a smaller part of the vegetation in almost every other terrestrial habitat.

Grass stabilises and protects the soil and it is for this reason, one of the most important plant species on earth. Furthermore, it supports the dietary needs of most animals and provides the basic habitat for other plants to flourish in.

With 88 species officially recorded and over 100 species observed at Bezhoek, the grasslands within the Bezhoek Reserve are considered highly significant. Considering its relevance, the Bezhoek Management team follows a strict management plan to preserve its grasslands.

Trees and Shrubs

With approximately 400 plant species recorded at the Bezhoek Private Nature Reserve and with 27 red data listed plants recorded for the grid in which the Reserve lies.

The vegetation is significant and requires further investigation according to a SANBI Report.