The Wilds was once an open and rocky grassland where Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, author of Jock of the Bushveld, roamed. In 1936, after the donation of the land by Johannesburg Consolidated Investment (JCI), the indigenous forest was planted. In 2005 Yeoville resident TJ de Klerk and his German shepherd Dixi reclaimed the park for dog-walkers. This sparked a revival that led to the trail and tree marking. After several years of crime and neglect, in 2014 artist James Delaney began caring for the plants and fixing the infrastructure. He employed a friend, Thulani Nkomo and began an epic clean-up including weeding, pruning, removing 50 truckloads of dead wood and fixing pathways. As a sculptor, Delaney introduced aluminium animal sculptures to create destinations in the forest and “transform the space in people’s minds and draw people in”, he said. On Nelson Mandela Day in 2017, he hung 67 little owls high in the canopy of a grove of a Yellowwood tree “to get people to look up”. As more pe...

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