Benfontein Nature Reserve Hot
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Benfontein sunset by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick.jpg

Benfontein Nature Reserve is famous for its nocturnal animals that include Black-Footed Cat, Cape Fox, Bat-Eared Fox Aardwolf and Aardvark. The wide-open pan at its centre and the surrounding grasslands with camel-thorn acacias attract over 260 bird species and make it one of South Africa’s Important Bird Areas.

Benfontein Nature Reserve comprises 11 000 hectares and was originally bought by De Beers in 1891 for its diamond reserves. Today, it is dedicated to conservation and there are a number of important research projects being undertaken on the reserve. It supports large herds of Gemsbok, Black Wildebeest, Springbok and Red Hartebeest and there are over 40 Sociable Weaver colonies that have built their massive nests in the camel-thorn acacias. White-Backed Vultures, Secretarybirds and Verreaux’s Eagle Owl are also regularly sighted.

Sociable weaver by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

1 of 7: Sociable Weaver.

Ground Squirrel by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

2 of 7: Juvenile Ground Squirrel.

Camel thorn tree at Benfontein by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

3 of 7: Camel-Thorn Acacia.

Secretary Bird by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

4 of 7: Secretarybird feeding on a Cape Hare.

Red Hartebeest silhouette by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

5 of 7: Red Hartebeest at dawn.

Rock Monitor Lizard by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

6 of 7: Rock Monitor Lizard on the hunt.

Benfontein Grasslands by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

7 of 7: Open grasslands of Benfontein Nature Reserve.


Best Time to Photograph
Dawn, early morning, late afternoon and dusk are when the game and birds are most active. Summer brings thunderstorms and stunning sunsets over the open landscapes.
Type of Photography
  • Birding
  • Wildlife General
Photographic Tips
Photography is best undertaken by driving slowly through the reserve with camera at the ready. Large game is fairly skittish, but Benfontein offers excellent opportunities for photographing the small animals and birds. Night drives offer the best opportunity for sighting the Black-Footed Cats, Aardwolf and Aardvark. Dusk offers excellent opportunities for landscape photography.
Recommended Gear
Large telephoto lenses are needed in most cases for bird and wildlife photography at Benfontein. It is best to have a window mount in place for your camera and at night a good flash is a requirement.


Site Highlights
Black Footed Cat
Sociable Weaver Nests


Season and Weather
This is a harsh an unpredictable land where water is scares with less than 50mm of rain falling per year. Temperatures in summer are extremely high while nights can be chilly. Nighttime temperatures in winter can fall to minus 10 degrees C.
Other Activities
  • Night Drives
  • Birding
  • Game Viewing


Closest Town
Getting There
Benfontein Nature Reserve is situated about 10 kilometers south of Kimberly along the N8


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Peter Chadwick
Author: Peter ChadwickWebsite: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
As a dedicated conservationist, Peter Chadwick has 30 years strategic and operational conservation experience in terrestrial and marine protected area management. He has worked within all of the major biomes in southern Africa as well as having provided expert conservation advice at a global level. His conservation and wildlife photography is a natural extension to his conservation work where he has numerous opportunities to capture photographs that showcase the beauty and complexity of the outdoors. Peter’s photography is internationally recognized, with this work appearing globally in a wide range of print and electronic media.