History of Livestock Ownership in NW Namibia

Late 19th century colonial map of northwest Namibia. Namibia National Archives.

Environment and History has just published an article by Lion Rangers Program founder Dr. John Heydinger on the history of livestock ownership in northwest Namibia. This and other research emanating from the Lion Rangers program undergirds our historically-informed perspective . This includes our commitment to addressing human-lion conflict and lion conservation in northwest Namibia as a series of challenges taking place within a human landscape. Please read and circulate any and all of our research to those who may find it interesting.


This article details how the ovaHerero of Kaokoveld (north-west Namibia) experienced the precolonial and colonial eras as mediated through their cattle culture. While histories of Namibia rarely use non-Western lenses to interpret processes during the colonial era, this article examines ovaHerero colonial experiences as one episode within a broader history. It draws together archival and published sources to tell the little-known history of a people living in a remote and rugged rural area that nevertheless is of considerable contemporary interest because of wildlife conservation. Yet the ovaHerero of Kaokoveld remain little understood outside exoticised tourism material. Their history holds important lessons for the role of non-human actors in the precolonial and colonial eras, and for how environments, racialised social policies and power politics interacted to help construct contemporary north-west Namibia. Recentring ovaHerero experiences of these eras contributes to postcolonial studies of subaltern groups, the field of human–animal studies and the historiography of Namibia and Southern Africa.

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