'Vermin': predator eradication as an expression of white supremacy in colonial Namibia, 1921–1952

John Heydinger*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


In the first half of the 20th century, the racialised policies of apartheid affected not only the people of South West Africa but the predator population as well. This article explores how South West Africa’s colonial administration enabled the destruction of predators on white settler farmland while frustrating African efforts to combat livestock depredation by predators in ‘native’ reserves. Drawing upon archival sources and published government documents, the persecution of predators is shown to be an expression of white supremacist policies founded primarily in economic concerns. In particular, the cases of African wild dogs on settler farmland and African lions on ‘native’ reserves are contrasted. The effects of predator eradication policies from this era are still visible in the geography of these two species within Namibia. This article deepens historical understanding of the more-than-human effects of apartheid and of social policies in general. It also contributes to scholarly understanding of historical human–animal relationships in non-urban spaces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-108
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Southern African Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • apartheid
  • lions
  • more-than-human
  • Namibia
  • predators
  • vermin
  • wild dogs


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