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Dogs, poison and the meaning of colonial intervention in the Transkei, South Africa

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Chapter Summary

In the 1890s and 1900s in what is today the Eastern Cape of South Africa, colonial authorities expanded their control over the peoples and environments of the recently annexed territories of the Transkei. In the government?s efforts to restrict African access to forest resources, one intervention in particular spawned repeated conflicts and controversies in African communities: the mass killing of Africans? dogs. For foresters, the systematic poisoning and shooting of African-owned dogs was promoted as essential to undermine African men?s abilities to engage in hunting pursuits and thereby protect both local wildlife and European sport. Yet as local residents encountered state dog-killing, they imbued government actions and intentions with more profound meaning than officials anticipated. Popular responses to dog-killing reflected deeper frustrations, not only with the government?s restrictions on local forest use but with the broader colonial domination of local livelihoods and landscapes during this period.

Keywords: Colonial Intervention; dogs; foresters; government; hunting pursuits; poison; South Africa



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