Reclaim the Wilds This Sunday

by | Nov 20, 2017 | Johannesburg, Johannesburg City Centre, Parks/Nature Reserves | 8 comments

In April 2016 I published a blog post about the Wilds, a park near downtown Joburg. That post felt kind of controversial at the time because most Joburgers considered the Wilds to be a horribly dangerous place where no rational person would ever go.

I visited the Wilds back then with my artist friend James Delaney, who lives next to the park and had recently started venturing in with his dog, Pablo. James discovered that despite its reputation, the Wilds really wasn’t dangerous after all. Not only was the Wilds not dangerous, James discovered, it was also one of the loveliest places in Johannesburg.

James Delaney in the WildsJames sits on a newly painted park bench in the Wilds.

Pablo in the WildsPablo, King of the Wilds.

Fast forward a year-and-a-half. James has made it his personal mission to transform the Wilds into a well used public space and he is succeeding. Over the last couple of years James has organized crews of volunteers to pull weeds, clear underbrush, and paint park benches. He hung bird feeders on the periphery of the park to attract attention, encouraged his friends to visit, and convinced the security guards in his apartment building to use the Wilds as a short cut to work, creating more foot traffic through the park.

Tyson and Pablo in the WildsTyson, one of the guards in James’ building, hanging out with Pablo on his way to work.

James also created this incredible collection of 67 aluminum owl sculptures that hang in a grove of yellowwood trees in the middle of the Wilds. These owls are so freaking beautiful, I can hardly stand it.

Owl sculpture in the WildsOne of the many owl sculpture pictures I took the last time I visited the Wilds.

Owls in the WildsAnd another.

Anyway, I don’t want to give away too much of this story because I recently wrote a longer article about the Wilds for a cool new Joburg publication called You can learn more about the Wilds and see more of my recent photos in that article.

The purpose of this post is to let you know about an event happening at the Wilds this weekend. At the request of the City of Joburg, James is organizing a “Reclaim the Wilds” day on Sunday (26 November) from 8:00 a.m. to noon. The main point of the event is to show up and enjoy the park, but there is also some volunteer work to be done for those interested. All the necessary information about the event is in this Facebook post.

So get out there and reclaim the Wilds on Sunday, or any day for that matter. Don’t miss the owls.

Orange owl in the Wilds
One more owl because I freaking love them.

The entrance to the park is on Houghton Drive in Parktown, just north of Carse O’Gowrie Road and the Rodean School. (See map.)


    • 2summers


    • Melanie MacKenzie Botha

      Sounds like the perfect Sunday to become reacquainted with this beautiful, intriguing space. Can’t wait to see the owls… 🙂

      • 2summers

        You’ll love them 🙂

  1. autumnashbough

    That is so cool! Yay, James! Also, I love those owls. Does he ship internationally?!

  2. Gail Scott Wilson

    I’ll pop in for an early morning walk. Nice blog as usual.

    • 2summers

      Thanks! I’ve got an early morning thing so I’ll have to stop by later.


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