Michael & Norma Rattray – 25 July 2016
The Doyen of the South African Ecotourism Industry Retires

After more than 52 years at the helm of MalaMala Game Reserve, Michael Rattray has sold his remaining equity stake in the business to Stephen Saad, owner of Kirkman’s Kamp. Together, Stephen and the N’wandlahmari Communal Property Association now own the world renowned MalaMala Game Reserve (Pty) Ltd.
There will be no change in the day to day operations at MalaMala and Alison Morphet will continue in her role as the Managing Director in conjunction with Wayne Boyd, the Operations Director based at the reserve. The management team and the sales and reservations team will remain exactly as is.
Michael and Norma Rattray retire from the daily management of MalaMala but will continue to visit the reserve and assist the habitat team to ensure the environmental integrity of this special piece of Africa is maintained.
Michael Rattray stated "I am grateful to have been able to spend my life dedicated to the conservation of this incredible wilderness area entrusted to me. Simultaneously I am deeply honoured to have had the opportunity to work with a dedicated and passionate team of individuals, and we have, together as a team with our partners in the travel industry, taken MalaMala to the pinnacle of success." He went on to say "Over the decades there have been both successes and challenges but I believe that the time is right for me to retire. We have successfully led the way in the land restitution process in South Africa. Overall MalaMala has exceeded my expectations and as a result, the company is operationally very sound and positioned for continued success under the dynamic and respected new ownership."
Stephen Saad stated "For more than five decades Mike has provided invaluable leadership for MalaMala and for our tourism industry. His deep understanding of what international travellers need for an African safari and his consistent and resolute focus on providing exactly that, has distinguished MalaMala above all others. With the support and engagement of all the team at MalaMala, I am looking forward to building on Mike's legacy and to leading MalaMala to even higher levels of achievement and recognition as we go forward."
In 1964, Michael Rattray pioneered the concept of the photographic safari in South Africa and together with his wife Norma, they have built MalaMala into one of the most recognised game reserves in Africa. They saw the necessity of funding the sustainability of wildlife areas through non-consumptive tourism using ecotourism as the model. They devoted themselves to their beloved MalaMala and have established an internationally recognised brand that continues to set the benchmark for the photographic safari industry in South Africa today. Over the course of 50 years, the success of MalaMala, supported by the travel industry, has contributed enormously to the growth of South African tourism. 

One of Michael Rattray’s most significant achievements was his negotiation with the South African National Parks which resulted in the removal in 1993 of the fence between the Kruger National Park and the private game reserves to the west. 
"It is significant that as we enter into a new era where the fences that have existed between us South Africans are currently being lifted, that the fence which separated wildlife from wildlife is also being lifted" Michael Rattray, Fence dropping ceremony – 7th July 1993
Michael Rattray must also be congratulated for embracing the land restitution process and successfully concluding a long term co-management agreement with the N’wandlahmari community. We believe that this partnership with the community will be the blueprint for future land restitution transactions.

01 March 2016 - The signing of the long term 'co-management agreement'

Left to right:
Stephen Saad, Nomfundo Gobodo, Chief Land Claims Commissioner, Michael Rattray, Willie Mkansi, Chairman of the N’wandlamhari Communal Property Association
Michael and Norma will still be involved in ecotourism as they continue to develop and manage the Mount Anderson Water Catchment Reserve in the mountains above Lydenburg. We look forward to their continued visits to MalaMala Game Reserve where their legacy will be preserved into the future.
Together with the Community and existing management of MalaMala, Stephen Saad will oversee the continued success of this jewel in South Africa’s safari crown. "Our intention is not only to make further investments in the brand but to make this land restitution an example of how the private sector, government and the communities can work together to create local opportunities and an equitable share for all."

We have a number of new initiatives and projects in the pipeline and we are all looking forward to this exciting new chapter at MalaMala – the future is very bright.
“Satisfying a nation does not mean destroying the pristine nature of the various eco-systems, but rather ensuring that their renewable attributes continue renewing themselves for the benefit of posterity and of economic wellbeing." – Michael Rattray, July 1993
"I do not need to emphasise that the South African economy urgently requires revival and one of the quickest and easiest ways to this end is to boost international tourism to the country with ecotourism and our Game Reserves providing the initial key to success!" – Michael Rattray, July 1993
MalaMala Game Reserve
Telephone: +27 – 11 – 442 2267
Email: marketing@malamala.com