Personal Trophy to National Treasure: The History of Elephant Conservation in Southern Africa, 1840–1905

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Personal Trophy to National Treasure: The History of Elephant Conservation in Southern Africa, 1840–1905

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Title: Personal Trophy to National Treasure: The History of Elephant Conservation in Southern Africa, 1840–1905
Author: Mills, Sarah E.
Department: Haverford College. Dept. of History
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Issue Date: 2009
Abstract: Most people have heard about the African safari, but from where did such a tradition come, and why? This paper seeks to answer this question. It goes back to 1860 to discuss the phenomenon of white hunting for elephants in Southern Africa. This paper looks specifically at elephant hunting: first for tradition and subsistence amongst black and Boer populations, then for commercial purposes amongst whites and the Africans they employed, and finally for sport amongst wealthy British imperialists and visitors. These last two forms of hunting often co-occurred and are what probably brought about the African elephants’ demise; Britain’s Industrial Revolution brought about the increased want of ivory in Europe, along with increasing numbers of hunters and companies with enough capital to procure it. The over-hunting was fueled not only by the ivory trade but was connected with British ideas about nature, specifically a belief in the abundance of natural resources in Africa and in their need and right to use them. It was also fueled by conceptions of white, imperial masculinity that included the need and right to dominate nature via the dangerous sport of elephant hunting. With the Victorian era, however, conceptions of masculinity changed so that it was seen as more acceptable to kill elephants in a more restrained, sportsmanlike manner than hunters had previously. Additionally, imperialists were faced with alarming evidence of exponentially dwindling elephant populations. This meant an exponentially dwindling supply of ivory, a key natural resource and lucrative export for the British. Thus, both British social pressures and economic pressures combined to start the conservation movement in southern Africa. This movement excluded black Africans and promoted a conception of nature popular with upper-class British sportsmen and imperialists.
Subject: Elephant hunting -- Africa, Southern
Subject: Elephants -- Conservation -- Africa, Southern
Subject: Imperialism -- Great Britain -- History
Subject: Safaris -- Africa, Southern -- History
Terms of Use: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/us/
Permanent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10066/3723

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Citation

Mills, Sarah E.. "Personal Trophy to National Treasure: The History of Elephant Conservation in Southern Africa, 1840–1905". 2009. Available electronically from http://hdl.handle.net/10066/3723.

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