Lapalala has been involved in numerous research and conservation projects ever since it was first founded in 1981. These have been undertaken by both local and international organisations, and have dealt with many different types of mammal as well as birds, reptiles, fish and insects. A number of academic papers have been published – LWListOfResearchPapers


Predator Workshop
Perhaps the most important research underway at the moment is that of vector research into disease transmission in rhinos, particularly in connection with the Shuni virus. This vital work, being carried out in conjunction with world experts, aims to find out whether or not the Shuni virus is responsible for unexplained rhino moralities that have taken place in recent years.

Among the organisations who have done work at Lapalala are the Mammal Research Institute at the University of Pretoria, UNISA, the San Diego Zoo, the University of Western Australia, and Utrecht University in Holland. We have also collaborated with groups such as the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), the African Pangolin Working Group, and the FreeMe Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre.

Some of the campaigns at Lapalala by the EWT, founded in 1973 by Clive Walker, have involved wild dogs.

The Waterberg is one of the last the last places in Africa where packs of these intriguing animals are still free roaming and they have been sighted frequently on the Reserve – see the videos below.

African wild dog update
Wild Dog Release


Lapalala has been the ideal place to carry out studies on predators and scavengers such as the reclusive and solitary leopard and brown hyena, since it is a large wilderness area that does not have lions at this stage. Studies have been conducted in many aspects of the lives and of these secretive and nocturnal animals, and the camera traps have revealed fascinating details of their movements.

Leopard Camera Traps
Leopard Research – Camera trapping results
Brown Hyena Research

Another conservation group that benefits from Lapalala’s support is the FreeMe Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, which uses Lapalala as one of its release sites – the wild and safe expanse of the Reserve serves rehabilitated animals well.  Some of the species that have been brought to Lapalala for release are Verreaux’s (Black) eagle, bushbabies, serval, brown snake eagle, tortoises, lizards, chameleons, caracal, and one of Africa’s rarest mammal species, the pangolin.  Most of these animals have been rescued from the illegal animal and pet trade. Others had been injured and found in the wild.


Animal Relocation
Lapalala also collaborates extensively with UNISA in studies of the Iron Age site of Melora, which lies in the heart of the Reserve.  Incredible artefacts have been discovered here – a clay rhino sculpture, clay pots (one of which contained the remains of a human foetus), beads, an old copper mine, spear heads and, perhaps one of the most distinctive features, stone circles and walls that remain from an Iron Age settlement.  Excavations of this site are still undertaken periodically.  


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