Mattanu is originally a Hebrew word that means “gift from above” and once you’re swung up into the air in the Kriek family helicopter for a bird’s-eye view over the reserve, you’ll note what astonishing beauty the gods have bestowed on this gorgeous piece of earth. The 2300-hectare property leaves plenty of room for game to roam and run around in, and seeing them dash about in herds from high above proves more awe-inspiring than any episode of ‘National Geographic’ could make you feel.
Then to actually be invited to go up and not only be able to go up and touch an animal that has been darted and tranquilised temporarily for vaccination, such as the kudu, pictured, but to actually help out with giving the vaccinations, makes you feel all very David Attenborough-like, as though you’ve just done your bit for eco conservation.
On a serious note, Dr Kriek is quite the respected veterinarian in South Africa. Hailing from Zimbabwe, he is regarded as one of the most successful game capturing and importation operators in South Africa. He started out by importing 95 endangered Roan antelope and 65 rare Sable antelope species into the country, from Malawi, and has enjoyed watching their numbers steadily grow. Disease-free buffalo, too, is a breeding speciality of his and he was the first private game rancher to receive permission for the breeding of these stunning creatures. To date, there are over 36 different animal species and a total of 700 animals on Mattanu, hence it has become a popular destination for eco-tourism.