The name of the Springbok Flats is a poignant reminder of the great herds that once populated the plain. The area was also frequented by lions. Right up until the 1930s, an occasional beast still hunted the thornbush, and stories were told of early travellers who vanished without a trace.
With the arrival of the white hunter and trekboer with his voracious domesticated flocks and herds in the 19th century, however, followed by the commercial farmer with his demands for land and water early in the 20th century, the nature of the flats changed permanently as the habitat of the springbuck was put to agricultural use.
Slowly the open grasslands were either cultivated or invaded by acacia species, resulting in the thornbush which is seen here today. These days much of the plains is carpeted with fields of maize, cotton, sorghum and sunflowers, but the natural paradise is slowly being restored by conservationists through the restocking of game at various private reserves in the area.
The flats lie north of the Pienaars River where it crosses the N1 from Tshwane to Polokwane, and stretch westwards up to Bela-Bela and Modimolle and north-west as far as Mokopane. Eastwards the flats incorporate the villages of Crecy, Roedtan, Marolong, Nutfield, Tuinplaas and Settlers that serve the farming communities thriving on the rich peat soil of the area. The Nylsvley Nature Reserve and wetlands also form part of the Springbok Flats.