Birthday for one of world’s first reserves

02 Mar 2020

Dave Marsh

Dave Marsh

The first nature reserve proclaimed by President Paul Kruger and one of the first in the world celebrated its 125th birthday recently. 


The team made a birthday cake for their colleagues working at Groenkloof Nature Reserve on the edge of Pretoria to mark the occasion. 


The team celebrating the birthday of the reserve


A fearless warrior himself, President Paul Kruger of the Dutch-speaking independent South African Republic was a leading African statesman and military figure. Largely self-taught to read from the bible, he was a pious man who fought in his first military engagement at the age of 11. Although he claimed not to hate the British, he somehow often thwarted British colonial ambitions. A superb athlete and very in touch with his own people, he served as president for four terms before being driven into exile by British forces in 1900. Widely admired by Europeans, there are more streets named after him in European cities than any South African other than Nelson Mandela. 


He was also a conservation visionary. Since 1884 he had the vision to start what is today known as the Kruger National Park – a reserve now twice the size of Yellowstone in the USA and much larger than he himself ever imagined. 


But before he did that, in 1895 he proclaimed what is today Groenkloof Nature Reserve on the edge of Pretoria in a bid to save the shy buck known as the Oribi. As a result, there exists today in almost the centre of a city, a 600-hectare site that is in effect a time capsule going back to the stone age. 

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