The story begins four years ago when brothers Alan, Gary and Rob Marneweck traveled through a pristine stretch of land in the Tuli block, south-east Botswana, just north of South Africa. The incredible bio-diversity of the eco-systems from Lipadi hill all the way down to the Limpopo River took them by surprise. Soon, their 15 year old dream of establishing a sustainable conservation development in Africa, seemed not so impossible any more.
Within two years the 32,500 hectare Limpopo-Lipadi Game and Wilderness Reserve was registered with the Botswana Game Reserve Association as one of the largest private wildlife conservation projects in Botswana to date.
Aiming to re-establish endangered species such as white and black rhino, wild dog and cheetah, the Limpopo-Lipadi team acquired their first white rhino in 2006. Not realizing that one of the females was pregnant, Yantha surprised all, by becoming the first white rhino born in the Tuli in the last century. During 2008 Botswana wildlife asked LL if they would take in 9 wild dog puppies whos parents have been poached, bond them with another pack and rehab them back to the wild.
Since 2007, passionate-about-the-bushveldt eco-investors from all over the world were invited to become shareholders in Limpopo-Lipadi Botswana Investments Ltd, a public Botswana company which owns the land, the lodges and camps, vehicles, planes and the conservation project itself.
Says shareholder Grant Rogerson (expat South African): “The bush is one of the aspects of Africa I miss the most by living in Switzerland. I have looked at a number of reserve ownership opportunities over the years but LL was the only one that ticked so many of the boxes of owning a piece of Africa, in an uncomplicated yet secure and flexible manner, to enjoy the privilege of a true bush experience, on my own terms, with family and friends. In my view LL offers a truly unique opportunity to instill in my kids my passion and appreciation of the African bush.”
Says Alan Marneweck: “If you’re looking for a solid investment which also gives you the chance to get involved in cutting edge conservation, this is definitely not one to miss. In these environmentally aware times, it’s impossible to ignore the massive damage man is imposing on the planet. The threat of climate change raises questions for all of us – from individuals to companies, from countries to continents. And as the environment changes, so many species are being pushed to the brink of extinction.”
Gary Marneweck explains how the reserve is setting new benchmarks in environmental management: “Sustainability is the founding and fundamental principle of Limpopo-Lipadi. The ability to coalesce the ecosystem and community are considered critical to the sustained success of the game reserve and this underpins the planning and management of the reserve.
The cornerstone of this model is: game reserves are not about eco-systems, they are about all stakeholders that influence eco-systems. The Limpopo-Lipadi model therefore includes long term financial sustainability modelling and sources of income, ecosystem management using advanced fixed asset management techniques, advanced visitor experience management techniques, detailed environmental management plans ensuring long term sustainability of water resources, architectural designs that are energy saving and a hydro carbon neutral footprint.”
Leaving a Legacy
By investing in Limpopo-Lipadi, shareholders can be fully involved in the largest re-establishment of endangered species in Botswana to date. Shareholders can also explore the beauty of the reserve at their leisure, invite guests to stay and participate in a wide range of conservation training courses.
But probably more important, shareholders will be leaving a legacy and a passion for African wildlife to their children by involving them in the Limpopo-Lipadi bush law experience… This unique mapping system – a first in the history of Game Reserves – will educate the whole family on the seasonal secrets of every eco-system on the Reserve. Getting out to the “farm in Africa” won’t only be about “who sees the first lion?” anymore – but rather – which bush secret will we discover in the Marula forest this summer or in the Mopanie veld next winter?
Africa’s hidden diamond
Botswana is one of Africa’s little known economic success stories. After independence in 1966, the country’s economy averaged 9% growth a year up until 1999, giving it one of the fastest per capita growth rates in the world. This jaw-dropping economic expansion has been mainly due to Botswana’s thriving diamond industry, which produces the bulk of the country’s exports. Today Botswana has a negligible level of foreign debt with foreign exchange reserves of over $7 billion in 2005/2006.
In 2004, both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s assigned Botswana an “A” grade credit rating, making Botswana by far the best credit risk in Africa and putting it on par with or above many countries in central Europe, East Asia and Latin America. In the same year, Botswana was ranked as Africa’s least corrupt country by Transparency International, again ahead of many European and Asian countries. The World Economic Forum rates Botswana as one of the two most economically competitive nations in Africa. Taken together, these credentials make Botswana one of the best – but least known – investment opportunities in the developing world.
Investors in Limpopo-Lipadi will own the full title deed of the land and 6 luxury air-conditioned lodges and camps, with email, internet and skype access. The reserve will have its own DCA approved airstrip a 1.5 hour flight from Johannesburg. Every 20 shares sold incur an immediate growth in share value of around USD 10,000 and the last shares are expected to sell for over USD 300,000 by 2010 when the camps/lodges are completed. Botswana abolished foreign exchange controls in 1999, meaning profits and direct investment can be repatriated without restriction.
Make a real environmental difference!
The Marnewecks never realized their dream would be challenged and rewarded on the world stage so soon. Great was their surprise when on 3 December 2007 they were awarded with Gold prize for the “Best Sustainable Development in the World” at the Homes Overseas Award Ceremony in London, UK, from amongst thousands of entries around the world. December 2008 saw LL awarded with Gold again for the second year running.
Excited shareholders from all over the world including the Netherlands, UK, Spain, Switzerland, USA, Germany, Finland, France, Italy and South Africa celebrated the success of the project at this early stage of its existence.
In fact, we never expected to find a secure, levy-free, USD-based, offshore investment, with open-ended potential for capital gain and backed by Africa’s most stable economy, doing so well in such a short time, when we initially only searched for a game farm in Africa.
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