Statement by the Chief Executive of Big Game Parks

The elephants have finally flown!


The capture and translocation of any animal is always inevitably subject to high levels of stress to those who conduct it but particularly to the animals themselves.  The challenge is to keep those stress levels to a minimum, and any interruptions or delays in the process, be they deliberate or unintentional, simply add unwanted trauma and discomfort to the animals being captured and translocated.  It also is hugely costly.  In the current case of the Swazi elephants, demurrage on the plane, a Boeing 747 cargo carrier, the largest plane to have landed at the King Mswati III International Airport, is a million US Dollars a day.


While human error, and Murphy’s law, are realities to be contended with in any translocation, in the end it is always the animals which suffer the consequences of human error and human behaviour, despite having had nothing to do with what is chosen for them.


Elephants are a species which evoke enormous human emotions among decent, caring, but often misinformed supporters, and animal rights activists have latched on to this to exploit the potential of an extremely fertile and lucrative money making platform from donor funding on which they survive.


For this reason, there are a plethora of sensitivities around the movements of elephants, and in the case of the Swazi elephants a calculated decision was made to follow a discreet and confidential route, for as long as possible,  to shorten our exposure to demonstration and demonization by money-hungry activists.


When the news broke about the Swazi elephants, as it always eventually does, the Right Honourable Prime Minister, as Head of Cabinet, was duly informed by Big Game Parks on 29th September 2015.


This statement is released in the hope that delays and frustrations which traumatize and impact very negatively on animals, which become the subject of unnecessary constraints, are better appreciated and minimised in future by everyone involved.

T.E Reilly

Chief Executive of Big Game Parks, Swaziland


Big Game Parks Successfully Hosts IdolsSA Star

Big Game Parks recently had the privilege of hosting IdolsSA star Kyle Deutschmann who was shooting a music video for the hit song “Wildside” at Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary and Mkhaya Game Reserve. Kyle finished in the top five of the tenth edition of the popular music talent search show South African Idols.

Hosting and assisting in the video shoot with Kyle and crew was great fun, and the video is evidence of it!  Big Game Parks congratulates Kyle and  crew  for choosing Swaziland and Big Game Parks especially.. To watch the video, follow the YouTube link:


Big Game Parks Quiet Season Specials

QSS Info Sheet Rack-page-001Save up to 30% off on accommodation on Big Game Parks’ Quiet Season Specials at Hlane Royal National Park, Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctaury including Reillys Rock Hilltop Lodge and Mkhaya Game Reserve when you stay  two nights or more from the 10th January 2016 to 20th March 2016. Entry is free for WILD card holders.

To book contact the Central Reservations Office on or call +268 2528 3943


Big Game Parks 2015/16 Festive Season Procedures

family of logosHlane Royal National Park and Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary welcome day visitors over the Christmas season.  We encourage enjoyment of our parks in a responsible manner with respect to wildlife and fellow guests.  EcoTourism is about a quality nature experience.  Big Game Parks is about making memorable experiences in nature available to local, regional and international guests.  We do not condone noisy and disrespectful behavior.  Our parks are here to be enjoyed by all who visit, which means safety, respect, courtesy and sobriety are important.

Due to the high levels of disturbance and numerous refunds paid to unhappy overnight guests over Christmas 2014, our parks will be following a very strict procedure this festive season.

  • For the safety and enjoyment of all, the “No Alcohol Permitted” rule will be enforced vigorously throughout the holiday season
  • Every vehicle will be searched on entry to both Hlane and Mlilwane. Vehicles with alcohol will be turned away and denied access into the park.
  • No alcohol may be left at our gates.
  • Anyone arriving intoxicated or suspected of being under the influence of intoxicating substances will be turned away. Our Rangers have full discretion.
  • Day Visitors will be required to leave the Rest Camp by 17h00 between 20 December and 5 January
  • Security will be deployed in the camps and have the authority to search picnics and any alcohol found being off-loaded will result in the vehicle and its passengers being evicted without refund
  • The number of Day Visitor vehicles allowed into the parks will be restricted on 25th December, 26th December and 1st Notices will be erected at the turn off when capacity is reached.  Big Game Parks reserves the right to restrict entry during Peak Season.
  • Conservation (entry) fees will be as follows:
    • E40,00 per adult & E20 per child during High Season (18-24 Dec & 28-30 Dec)
    • E60,00 per adult & E30 per child during Peak Season (25-27 Dec & 31 Dec-3 Jan) – Restricted access applies
    • Normal Rates apply through the rest of the months of December and January, with exception of the above dates
    • Wild Cards will be accepted as normal, without premium fare
    • Pre-bookings for overnight guests as per our forecast will be charged normal Conservation Fees, including pay on arrival
    • Pre-paid Christmas Lunch bookings in the Hippo Haunt and Hlane Restaurants will be charged normal Conservation Fees. Pre-bookings without payment will be charged peak season rates. 

Wishing all our guests a fabulous Festive Season!

To book contact our Central Reservations Office on +268 2528 3943 or email

10 Interesting Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Rhinos

Here are 10 interesting fun facts you most probably didn’t know about Rhinos.

Happy reading! 

ML SMR 70s Rhino Wallow

1) A Rhino’s horn’s structure resembles a horse’s hooves. The outside is composed of soft keratin, similar to our very own hair and fingernails, while at its centre there are dense deposits of melanin and calcium. If the horn breaks off, a rhino can grow a new one.

2) In ancient times, the rhino horn was believed to hold magical properties, such as the ability to purify water or to be used to detect poisons in drinks. Surprisingly, the latter quality may be true! Because of the horn’s composition, today some believe that strongly alkaline poisons may have produced a chemical reaction inside a cup made from the horn.

3) An adult rhino’s skin can be as much as 5 cm thick, with typical range of thickness across being 1-5 cm!

4) Despite their large size, Rhinos are quick! Some have been clocked at going as fast as 45 km/h! In comparison, a human at full speed on a 100 metre sprint reaches around 37 km/h. And all this done with Rhinos only running on their toes.

5) White Rhinos can eat plants that are toxic to other animals, it’s safe to say that without Rhinos the plains of Africa would be scattered with weeds.

6) Rhinos are more closely related to horses and zebras than hippos, Rhinos are Odd-Toed Ungulates.

7) Black Rhinos have a prehensile upper lip (similar to a set of human fingers), this helps them to get even the smallest piece of vegetation from a thorn bush.

8) Rhinos make their own sun block by wallowing in mud for up to 3 hours and letting it dry, this also helps with keeping some blood sucking insects away.

9) Black Rhinos can live up to 5 days without water during drought.

10) The collective name for a group of Rhinos is a “Crash of Rhinos”.

Mkhaya rhino Photography


Upgraded Camping Facilities at Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary

Our new ablutions are opening this week!

The upgrade of Mlilwane’s camping facilities began in 2009 with the conversion of the casual camping grounds into 20 individual leveled sites, each with their dedicated braai stand, electricity points and some with a shared water source.

In 2013, the Rest Camp fenced off a few areas in front of the campsite in order to establish indigenous trees and plants in front of the Eucalypt forest.  This required game-proof fencing and enrichment of the dead soil with home-grown compost (thanks to Chubeka Trails).  Despite the sorry state of the eucalyptus-drained soil, the gardens are growing well.  In time, the newly established trees will provide shade and we look forward to cutting back the Eucalyptus and establishing more indigenous trees, but for now, shade for campers is important.  The Eucalyptus forest is also a very effective sound barrier from the sometimes noisy House on Fire across the valley, so removing it entirely is not planned.  The trees planted include various Acacia for soft shade and not to obstruct the view, Natal Figs for dense shade and to attract fruit-eating birds as well as Coral Trees to attract our numerous nectar-feeding sunbirds.  Gardenias, Aloes and Iboza have been planted for variety, colour and additional wildlife attraction.


The great finale has just been completed! Mlilwane has built an amazingly spacious, highly anticipated new ablution and wash up facility just behind the leveled sites, removing the need to trudge to the old ablutions.  The building has purposely been sited in the Eucalyptus to reduce the number of trees and to be discreet.  Along the one side are the ablutions, separate facilities for ladies and gentlemen, each with 4 toilets and 4 showers, well spaced basins and lovely natural light complimenting the electric lighting, with water warmed by gas geysers.

Along the other side is a large DIY laundry and wash up area.  The laundry has concrete ironing tables, a long tiled concrete table and concrete washing basins with ample surface area.  The wash up area sports built in benches, large solid tables and wash up basins with decent space in between so that groups and families can co-exist happily.  In fact, if the weather comes in, this will be a fun place to congregate!

Happy camping at Mlilwane.