Gauteng Game and Nature ReservesThe Wonderboom Nature Reserve
Named after the wild fig (Ficus salicifolia) Wonderboom, for which the reserve is famous, and which grows at the foot of the northern slopes of the Magalies Mountain range, the Wonderboom Nature Reserve lies to the north of Pretoria - a 200 hectare reserve that has as its heart a 1 000 year old specimen.
A legend that places the remains of a chief of an indigenous tribe beneath its roots serves to explain the size of this particular Wonderboom (miracle tree). It was originally a lot bigger, so big it was reputed to provide shade for 1 000 people at a time, or 22 ox wagons.
But the combination of a fire in 1870 and a more recent parasite infestation, that had the tree in quarantine for 20 years, has left it a shadow of its former self. However, the sheer weight of its branches, which grew longer and lower, rooted themselves and produced daughter trees, which have in turn produced a third generation that now surround the original specimen.
If this weren’t enough of an invitation to visit the Wonderboom Nature Reserve, it is also the site of the Wonderboom Fort - one of four built to defend the city against the British - at the top of the Wonderboom Hill.
At the foot of this same hill lie two adjacent archaeological sites - one an example of the Iron Age, and the other one of the best Stone Age sites in the area - the largest single collection of stone artifacts ever discovered in Africa was excavated here.
The Wonderboom Nature Reserve is also the dwelling place of a number of small antelope, monkeys, dassies and an array of birds.