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The Magaliesberg by Vincent Carruthers was first published in 1990. A second edition was published in 2000 and reprinted in 2007. It has now been revised again for publication to coincide with the international proclamation of the Magaliesberg Biosphere.
The book has been highly successful and is a valuable source of information about the Magaliesberg, its geology, biodiversity and human history. During the decades since its publication substantial changes have taken place in in South Africa and in the Magaliesberg region and the revised editions to The Magaliesberg have taken cognisance of these. Most importantly, The Magaliesberg has had a profound influence on government and public awareness of the region and it has led directly to application to UNESCO for the Magaliesberg to be registered as a Biosphere Reserve in June 2014. This international recognition of the importance of the area will greatly enhance conservation efforts and stimulate tourism, education and research in the region.
The current edition of The Magaliesberg celebrates this accomplishment and it will continue to be the primary source of information for public readership. The Magaliesberg mountains are more than two billion years old – one of the oldest mountain ranges on the planet – and the book traces their creation and the changes in the landscape over this vast passage of time. The ancient geomorphology has given rise to a wide spectrum of different habitats and a consequent diversity of plant and animal life. The book's extensive descriptions of the fauna and flora of the area inspire the reader to consider the impact that man has on his environment. Each of the main plant and animal groups – trees, flowers, birds, mammals, reptiles and insects – has a full chapter devoted to it with checklists of every species found in the area indicating both the Scientific as well as common names.
The second half of The Magaliesberg is dedicated to the immensely rich human history of the Magaliesberg and is equally comprehensive. Starting with the pre-hominid ancestors of humankind it describes the paleontological and archaeological evidence of the succession of people who have lived in the mountains over hundreds of thousands of years. Stone Age tools and etchings, Iron Age walled villages as well as the forts and battlefields of more recent centuries are all brought to life in detailed accounts of the people and events of the time. Carruthers's eloquent writing style is easy to read and grabs the reader's attention from the start.
The comprehensive book is based on exhaustive research and is complemented by numerous illustrations and full-colour photographs. Carruthers's love for the area is obvious and he describes the Magaliesberg as a 'priceless national asset', which The Magaliesberg has helped, and continues to help, to preserve. The many full-colour and black and white photographs, as well as detailed illustrations on every page, add value to the book and make it a publication that appeals to those readers who are academically inclined, as well as those who are amateur environmentalists or historians.
Vincent Carruthers served for seven years as a board member on the North West Parks and Tourism Board and is currently the Chairman of the Magaliesberg Biosphere NPC. He is a past executive director of the Wildlife Society of SA and chairman of Birdlife SA. He lectures and consults on environmental and tourism matters and is the author of several books on wildlife, history and conservation. He is on the boards of the Delta Environmental Centre and the Sustainable Tourism Research Institute of SA.