About Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve

"No matter how few possessions you own or how little money you have, loving wildlife and nature will make you rich beyond measure."
Paul Oxton

The Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve is a privately owned and licensed wildlife reserve covering some 1600ha. Situated in the heart of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Siteā„¢, it brings Africa to the doorstep of Johannesburg. The nature reserve is home to some of the world's rarest and most endangered wildlife species while providing a source of income to 180 dedicated employees and their families. We offer self- and guided game drives, educational tours, accommodation and recreational activities to both local and international guests, wildlife enthusiasts, families, schools and the tourism sector at large. The reserve is also home to another major visitor attraction, the two billion year old Bothongo Wonder Cave, which is the third largest single cave chamber and the only 'living' cave in South Africa.


520 Kromdraai Road
Cradle of Humankind

Tiger Enclosure - It is almost ready !

Even the visitors have their own special new feature : a viewing window, perfect for tiger pics without mesh in the way !

The new forever home of Rhino and Lion nature reserve's tigers is ready to welcome its inhabitants. The enclosure is spacious and built especially for tigers, with a large water feature to accomodate the water loving big cats. A waterfall feeds a little lake that opens on a water stream running all the way from the top to the bottom of the enclosure. The place has also been furnished with a sturdy multi-level platform that can be compared to a giant cat tree. And final touch, trees and bamboos have been planted at strategic positions to provide much needed shade during hot summer days.

By building an enclosure to fit one species in particular, we naturally include all important aspects of their natural environment, giving the animals the best living conditions possible in captivity. It is the first step towards good animal welfare.

And now that the first new enclosure is finished, all eyes are turned to the next project : this half-demolished old building below. Stay tuned for more !

The Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve says NO to cub petting!

September 9th 2019
The Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve in the Cradle of Humankind will no longer be offering cub petting to the public, with immediate effect.

For 30 years, the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve has shared its love of wildlife with South Africans and visitors from across the world. But times have changed. We are under the new ownership of the Bothongo Group and are refocusing on animal welfare. As new owners, we have acknowledged that what was acceptable in 1990 when the reserve first opened to the public, may no longer be acceptable in 2019.

"Human beings have always wanted to get up close and personal with wild animals," says Jessica Khupe, Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve Brand Manager. "Understandable as this is, studies have shown that it is not good for animal welfare. Recent campaigns have highlighted the global problem of cub petting and unscrupulous operators both locally and abroad. Simply put, it is not necessary to touch an animal to connect with the importance of wildlife conservation. We'd also like to make it very clear that we are utterly opposed to the abhorrent canned hunting and lion bone trade."

Recently appointed Chief Operations Officer of the reserve, Mike Fynn, explains: "Breeding and rearing animals for the purpose of cub petting and interaction is not only undesirable from an animal welfare perspective, it's also not a sustainable business model. From now on, we will focus on educating the public about wildlife and the importance of conservation. This is why, with immediate effect, we choose to put a stop to cub petting at the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve and sincerely hope that other facilities responsibly follow suit."

Over the past few months, while under new stewardship, the reserve has initiated a three-year plan to upgrade all of our public facilities, habitats and wildlife enclosures, which will be remodeled around the welfare and wellbeing of our animals. Many of them are species that are endangered thanks to human activity and habitat loss. We dedicate ourselves to our new internal mantra of being a 'nurture reserve'.

In addition, we commit to the following:

  • We will strive to maintain a healthy, genetically diverse and contented animal collection, and we will work with local and international institutions and bodies ensuring that we play our part in managing the long-term survival of endangered and threatened species.
  • We pledge not to sell or exchange any of our animal family, especially our lions, unless it's to a reputable accredited facility and/or licensed wildlife institution.
  • We will breed animals only if this serves a conservation purpose.

"To those of our visitors who are disappointed that they can no longer cuddle a lion cub at our reserve: this is the right thing to do," says Jessica. "As animal lovers, we understand how charismatic African wildlife is. But the truth is that our love for our animals may inadvertently harm them, even though we don't mean to."

She adds that she's excited about this new journey: "We take the opportunity to re-welcome the greater public, wildlife stakeholders, tour operators and travel agents to actively support our reserve as it evolves into a BIG, must-see destination, that provides an authentic and informative wild animal experience for generations to come. Our wildlife family now has a voice again."

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Issued by Kisha van Vuuren at Tin Can PR for the Bothongo Group Management (Pty) Ltd on behalf of Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve.

Read the story on Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve Website

Download WAZA Guidelines on Animal Interactions


Watch the last progress made on the Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve projects.

Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve aiming for 2023