There are natural reserves and then there are natural reserves: Alladale Estate — a peaceful 23,000-acre Highland estate offering luxury digs and wildlife sightseeing for a couple hundred visitors every year — aims to become Britain's first fully-fledged ecological game reserve by reverting it to a state of nature 2,000 years old. Paul Lister, the millionaire owner of Alladale, having just obtained a dangerous wild animal license — enabling him to reintroduce elk, wild boars, lynx and others — now hopes to complete his life-long dream of recreating Scotland's once remote wilderness.
Working with neighboring landowners, he wants to convert his and adjoining estates into a reserve for indigenous flora — including juniper, hazel, Caledonian pine and round birch — and fauna. "We received our dangerous animals licence last week and as soon as the foot and mouth regulations die down we'll be bringing in two young elk from Sweden as part of the first step," said Hugh Fullerton Smith, the general manager of Alladale. "We already have wild boar and have fenced off 440 acres as part of a game reserve trial which scientists from Oxford University are monitoring."Their objective is clearly ambitious: Smith says they want to create "the biggest enclosed wilderness reserve in Europe." Once completed, the game reserve is expected to attract an estimated 50,000 visitors each year. Lister promises there will not be any stalking or shooting.
Smith and his team are drawing inspiration from the Shamwari Game Reserve near Cape Town, South Africa, where ecologists successfully reintroduced five of Africa's big species — the lion, buffalo, leopard, rhino and elephant. If properly managed — with careful supervision of the visitors and other externalities — but otherwise left to its elements, this game reserve could prove to be a big success down the line. Hopefully this one will set the example for more to come.
Via ::Guardian Unlimited: Dangerous species' Highland haven (news website)
See also: ::Gaia Luxury Hotel & Natural Reserve in Costa Rica, ::The Green Goodbye
Image courtesy of macieklew via flickr