Over 100 years ago, the Selati Game Reserve’s almost 28 000 hectares of undisturbed wilderness and seemingly endless horizons became a land of riches. A century later, this mesmerising land still harbours a treasure trove of wonder and natural allure, one which is experienced and appreciated by many across the globe.
The Selati Game Reserve holds an extensive and complex history. Dating back to over three million years ago, the land on which the reserve was established was once home to ancient hominids, the ancestors of our ancestors. Primitive tools were discovered in this region, along with sacred rock art dating back to almost 85 000 years ago. As time passed and humans evolved, so too did society. About 1500 years ago, the San people who inhabited the sweeping plains of Selati were driven out by other tribesmen and legendary kings and queens.
The official Selati Game Reserve found its inception in the 1880s with the discovery of gold. The land was then under the leadership of Paul Kruger and a handful of miners occupied certain corners of the environment to further seek out their fortune. In the same breath, the area was also being used as a transportation channel. One of the operators was Hugh Lanion Hall, who secured the rights to claim pockets of land for farming purposes. These established blocks became a space for cattle and were collectively known as Ermelo Ranch.
However, malaria was still a wide spread issue in Africa, leaving the Lowveld relatively unhampered by humans. But after the myths about the disease were dispelled and prevention medication developed, the Lowveld area gained in popularity as a hunting and cattle farming area. The Selati land was later released by the crown and procured by H.L. Hall in 1957. It cost him a sum of 3234 pounds, 2 shillings and 9 pennies.
The land then began to burst in population as more farmers sought out cattle farming space. Henry Dunn and Pete Warren’s parents, both of whom co-own Selati Game Reserve today, were among these farmers. In the 1990s, beef prices dropped dramatically as private game farms and conservation efforts increased in popularity. On the 2nd of May 1992, H.L. Hall’s great, great grandson called a meeting due to these unforeseen circumstances. After a lengthy 18 months of meetings, the individual farm owners agreed to create a profusion of land and establish a wilderness reserve were conservation was held in the highest regard.
On September the 13th 1993, the Selati Game Reserve became official, with the ceremony and celebrations conducted at the Henry Dunn camp. A total of seven founding members signed the constitution and shareholders agreement. These members included the Halls, Piet Warren, Henry Dunn, Piet Mare, and the Thomas brothers. After the reserve came into being, fences and existing infrastructure were removed to create a clean slate and endless possibilities. In 1996, the introduction of the Big 5 began.
As the reserved continued to grow, develop, and flourish, the land proved to be a suitable home for myriad endangered species, including the sable antelope. After an assessment by the Black Rhino Range Expansion Project, directed by the World Wildlife Foundation, Selati became one of the very first reserves in Southern Africa to be selected for the introduction of a group of black rhino.
The Selati Game Reserve has since found prosperity, becoming one of the leading reserves in the Lowveld and a true heartbeat of the bushveld. It’s a sanctuary of belonging to both fauna and flora, a home to a wealth of biodiversity, and a testament to nature’s resilience. Today, Selati continues to uphold and enrich its legacy and land with a strict limit of vehicles and a strong dedication to sustainable practices, leaving the environment practically unhampered.
We are blessed to feel Selati as a living, breathing miracle under our feet.