The Wildlife & Birds
of the Magaliesberg


Sable antelope painted by W. Cornwallis Harris
in the Magaliesburg. 1836


Magaliesberg was once the home of huge elephant herds, rhino, buffalo, giraffe, big cats and many species of buck. Although many large species have been destroyed over the years, private game lodges are re-introducing some back into the region. Of particular significance is the re-introduction of Sable as it was in Magaliesberg that W. Cornwallis Harris first recorded this species for science in 1836. Sable and roan antelope, gemsbok, wildebeest, giraffe, zebras and other species can be seen in the Rustenburg and Silkaatsnek nature reserves. Porcupines, polecats, bushbabies, dassies and weasles roam wild and in the forest there are vervet monkeys, shy duiker and genets. If you sit very quietly at the edge of the forest you may be fortunate enough to sight tree squirrels. Five different species of mongoose live on the slopes of the mountains and on the cliffs are dassies, klipspringers and troops of baboons that come down to the lower slopes to forage by day. Many other species live in this region, including leopards that prefer secret retreats in the dense vegetation of the kloofs.


Whitefronted bee-eater (K. Newman)

Magaliesberg is a favourite place for birdwatchers who travel out from the city every weekend to get sight some of the 300 species that have been recorded in the area. Cape vultures nest in colonies on the south facing cliffs along with the black eagle, jackal buzzard, falcons and swifts. In winter the aloes attract myriads of brilliantly coloured sunbirds and in summer flocks of migrating storks can be seen in the fields. Cuckoos, starlings, robins, babblers, barbets, finches, owls and a multitude of other species are to be spotted here. In October, the exquisite paradise flycatcher moves into the area to breed and rear its offspring before returning to the tropics for the winter.

The Johannesburg Birdwatching Society has frequent visits to the area and can be contacted at 011 789 1122

A full picture of the flora and fauna of the region can be gleaned from Vincent Carruthers excellent book The Magaliesberg, obtainable from most large booksellers in South Africa.

Click here to view a checklist of the birds of the Magaliesberg area.