The Rise of Conservation in South Africa: Settlers, Livestock, and the Environment 1770-1950

Paperback | June 29, 2008

byWilliam Beinart

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The Rise of Conservation in South Africa is an innovative contribution to the growing comparative field of environmental history. Beinart's major theme is the history of conservationist ideas in South Africa. He focuses largely on the livestock farming districts of the semi-arid Karoo and theneighbouring eastern Cape grasslands, conquered and occupied by white settlers before the middle of the nineteenth century. The Cape, like Australia, became a major exporter of wool. Vast numbers of sheep flooded its plains and rapidly transformed its fragile natural pastures. Cattle also remainedvital for ox-wagon transport and internal markets. Concerns about environmental degradation reached a crescendo in the early decades of the twentieth century, when a Dust Bowl of kinds was predicted, and formed the basis for far-reaching state intervention aimed at conserving natural resources. Soilerosion, overstocking, and water supplies stood alongside wildlife protection as the central preoccupations of South African conservationists. The book traces debates about environmental degradation in successive eras of South African history. It offers a reinterpretation of South Africa's economic development, and of aspects of the Cape colonial and South African states. It expands the understanding of English-speaking South Africans andtheir role both as farmers and as protagonists of conservationist ideas. The book is also a contribution to the history of science, exploring the way in which new scientific knowledge shaped environmental understanding and formed a significant element in settler intellectual life. It paints anevocative picture of the post-conquest Karoo, analysing the impact of self-consciously progressive farmers and officials in their attempts to secure private property, curtail transhumance and kraaling, control animal diseases, enhance water supplies, eradicate jackals, destroy alien weeds such asthe prickly pear, and combat drought. It concludes by analysing conservationist interventions in the African areas, and discussing evidence for a stabilization of environmental conditions over the longer term.

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The Rise of Conservation in South Africa is an innovative contribution to the growing comparative field of environmental history. Beinart's major theme is the history of conservationist ideas in South Africa. He focuses largely on the livestock farming districts of the semi-arid Karoo and theneighbouring eastern Cape grasslands, conque...

William Beinart is Rhodes Professor of Race Relations at the University of Oxford.

other books by William Beinart

Twentieth-Century South Africa
Twentieth-Century South Africa

Kobo ebook|Oct 4 2001

$23.09 online$29.99list price(save 23%)
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Format:PaperbackDimensions:456 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.94 inPublished:June 29, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199541221

ISBN - 13:9780199541225

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Table of Contents

Preface and AcknowledgementsLists of Figures, Illustrations, Tables, and MapsIntroduction: Livestock Farming and Environmental Regulation at the Cape1. Scientific Travellers, Colonists, and Africans: Chains of Knowledge and the Cape Vernacular, 1770-18502. Defining the Problems: Colonial Science and the Origins of Conservation at the Cape 1770-18603. Fire, Vegetation Change, and Pastures 1860-18804. Vets, Viruses, and Environmentalism in the 1870s and 1880s5. Water, Irrigation, and the State 1880-19306. The Night of the Jackal: Sheep, Pastures, and Predators 1890-19307. Drought, Conservation, and Nationalism: the Career of H. S. du Toit 1900-19408. Prickly Pear in the Cape: Useful Plants and Invaders in the Livestock Economy 1890-19509. 'The Farmer as a Conservationalist': Sidney Rubidge at Wellwood, Graaff-Reinet 1913-195210. Debating Conservation in the African Areas of the Cape 1920-195011. Postscript: Debating Degradation over the Long Term: Animals, Veld, and ConservationBibliographical NoteSelect Bibliography of Secondary SourcesIndex

Editorial Reviews

Review from previous edition: "William Beinart's complex and wonderfully informative book has its origins in the author's long-standing interest in the ideas that 'underpinned environmental regulation in Africa districts' of the Cape Colony and, to a lesser extent, the other territorialcomponents of the Union of South Africa after 1910." --The English Historical Review