The park was named after a Tswana chief who went by the name ‘Pilane’. The northern part of Pilanesberg National Park was originally owned by the Bakgatla – ba – Kgafela tribe (also known as the Bakgatla tribe). The southern area of the park was formerly a set of farms owned by local farmers in the 1860s and they were responsible for the development of the Mankwe Dam in the reserve. The Government during the 1960s under the apartheid regime then bought these farms in the south of the park. The Bakubung tribe decided to settle on this land, arriving from the nearby town of Ventersdorp. This land was then passed onto Bophuthatswana (an area set aside for members of a specific ethnicity – ‘Bophuthatswana’ means gathering of the Tswana people).

Now was the time for the re-introduction of wildlife into the area and the conversion of Pilanesberg into a game reserve. Chief Tsidmane Pilane from the Bakgatla tribe agreed to the inclusion of a mountainous region owned by them, to be included in the new reserve. Families were moved to a new town to the east of the reserve in an agreement with tribal authority.

These are the stages leading up to what we observe today as the Pilanesberg Game Reserve.