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date: 19 April 2019

The African Rinderpest Panzootic, 1888–1897

Summary and Keywords

Between 1888 and 1897, rinderpest virus (cattle plague) spread throughout sub-Saharan Africa, presumably for the first time, killing over 90 percent of African cattle and countless wildlife, expedited by European colonial conquest. Beginning in the Eritrean port of Massawa, the virus was transmitted across the Sahel, reaching the Senegal River by 1891. The epizootic spread south out of the Horn of Africa, into the western and eastern Rift valleys, and likely by sea with coastal commerce, infecting East Africa after 1891. Although slowed by the Zambezi River, in 1896 rinderpest reached the regions of modern Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, and southern Angola before it burned out or was arrested by breakthroughs in vaccine therapy by 1900. South of the Zambezi, early European methods of stanching rinderpest by destroying all cattle exposed to the virus often elicited protest, resistance, and sometimes rebellion. Rinderpest was eliminated from southern Africa shortly after the turn of the 20th century but became enzootic in other parts of the continent, often in wildlife, until eradicated globally in 2011. In each region of infection, local ecologies, trade patterns, agricultural bases, social structures, and power dynamics shaped the impact of rinderpest. Almost everywhere, rinderpest was preceded by drought and locust plagues, and followed by human diseases, especially smallpox and malnutrition.

Keywords: rinderpest, cattle plague, epizootics, colonial conquest, veterinary science, vaccine therapy, social change

Characteristics of Rinderpest Virus

Before global eradication in 2011, rinderpest was a virus of even-toed ungulates (Artiodactyla), domestic and wild animals, especially cattle, which, in the most virulent form, had a 100 percent mortality rate.1 Although rinderpest was an age-old disease in Europe and Asia, only in 1899–1902 did researchers in Istanbul identify rinderpest as a virus. Before then, its causative agent was unknown, but its contagious nature and key symptoms were well understood. The virus in Africa had an incubation period of three to five days in cattle, followed by a rapid rise in temperature, severe mouth lesions during a mucosal phase, depression and anorexia, and severe bloody diarrhea, killing the animal from dehydration. Blindness sometimes occurred owing to severe eye infection. In enzootic regions, like Asia Minor, incubation might take ten to fifteen days, allowing more time to spread the disease over distance. Recovered (so-called “salted”) animals had lifelong immunity. The virus needed a constant supply of susceptible hosts to survive, so its rapid advance through sub-Saharan Africa between 1888 and 1897 demonstrated serial contact between livestock and wildlife across ecosystems, skirting tsetse-infested regions where cattle were scarce.2 Under suitable circumstances of temperature, sunlight, and humidity, pastures could remain infectious for days or weeks. The virus could be transmitted by aerosol droplets from grazing or watering animals, or by nasal and eye secretions and bodily excretions. Some thirteen African wildlife species were most susceptible, especially Cape buffalo and wildebeest, which often shared pastures with cattle. However, the cattle–wildlife association in rinderpest was not clearly understood until 1896, when the African epizootic that had been spreading since 1888 was diagnosed by a trained veterinarian to be rinderpest. The virus did not survive long in direct sunlight or high temperatures but could be transmitted in uncooked meat and unprocessed hides.

Almost everywhere in Africa where rinderpest broke out, it was preceded by drought, which facilitated transmission by bringing susceptible animals close together at watering points or pastures. The African panzootic of 1888–1897 may have been exacerbated by a series of El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events, which caused extreme drought every few years, forcing infected wildlife and cattle to migrate and congest around waterholes, lakes, and wells.3 Animals with mild infections, like goats, sheep, pigs, and antelopes, could pass the virus to more susceptible animals. Carcasses of animals dead from rinderpest could maintain virulence for some time and were rarely incinerated or buried before the epizootic reached southern Africa.

The Arrival of Rinderpest in the Horn of Africa

Assessing the origins of rinderpest in Africa is complicated by an imperfect knowledge of diseases and their causality in the 1880s, when germ theory was in its early stages and not universally accepted. Many cattle diseases shared symptoms and could easily be confused, even with expert verification, including postmortem inspection of organs. Enzootic African diseases, like malignant catarrhal fever, mimicked rinderpest. Mass cattle death occurred in Africa from lungsickness (contagious bovine pleuro-pneumonia) in the decades before the rinderpest arrival, which was retroactively confused in travelers’ reports with rinderpest owing to its high morbidity and mortality. A December 1879 Italian report from Abyssinia called an epizootic in Adal region peste bovina—a generic wording for cattle plague synonymous with the German Rinderpest (itself a literal translation of “cattle plague”).4 Although rinderpest became the accepted term, the English “cattle plague,” Italian peste bovina, and French peste bovine were vague enough to encapsulate other animal diseases. The use of Italian epidemia bovina, epizoozia, and moria di bestiame, or German Rinderseuche, was similarly imprecise. Moreover, many accounts by travelers and soldiers came years after rinderpest first struck, and thus were based on memory or second-hand reports, not direct observations. In such cases, mention of wildlife mortality, especially of ungulates, helps to assess the presence of rinderpest after the fact.

Although rinderpest broke out in Egypt several times in the 19th century before 1863 and was enzootic in other parts of the Ottoman Empire, it apparently never breached the Sahara or Nile River cataracts.5 The most compelling evidence of the virus south of the Sahara locates its arrival at Massawa along the Eritrean coast in March 1888. Memmo and his colleagues, writing in 1904, believed that rinderpest-infected cattle first arrived at that time “from the Asian coast,” to provision the military campaign of General San Marzano against Emperor Johannes of Abyssinia.6 Although Richard Pankhurst, following Ethiopian lore of a later generation, pointed to the Italian merchant Lamberto Andreosoli as the importer of infected cattle from India, where rinderpest was enzootic, contemporary Italian sources on the military campaign of 1888 reported a disease in cattle sold to Italian forces by Mursa el Akad (aka Mussa el Haccad), an Arab merchant.7 At that time, rinderpest was reported in the environs of Damascus, and the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden had a vibrant trade in livestock, hides, and skins.8 When cattle at Massawa suddenly began to die—1600 of 3000 in less than two weeks—the Italian command ordered a commission to investigate the cause. It pronounced the malady (malattia) to be afta epizootica—foot and mouth disease—which shares some symptoms with rinderpest, but details and symptoms were not reported. Mouth lesions—also a symptom of rinderpest—may have been confused with foot and mouth disease. Later unverified British accounts located the first arrival of rinderpest in Somaliland from Indian cattle. Traveling in Somaliland south of Berbera in 1891, George D. Carleton noted that there were few horned cattle owing to a cattle plague in 1888.9 This may have been identical to the Massawa point of origin, but there is no reason to assume that there was a single source of the epizootic at a time when competing colonial militaries provisioned their expeditions into Africa, often through Aden and other Arabian ports. Steamships expedited cattle procurement before sick animals could die at sea, particularly during the northeast monsoons between October and March each year.

Rinderpest spread quickly from Massawa to the plains of Sabarguma in modern Eritrea, decimating cattle before becoming enzootic over the next decade and tending to break out in the summer between May and September each year.

The African Rinderpest Panzootic, 1888–1897Click to view larger

Figure 1. Rinderpest Outbreak in South Africa, 1896. Creative Commons License (public domain).

There was a direct connection between livestock death from rinderpest and spikes in the export of hides and skins, as would be the case as rinderpest spread throughout the continent. As the army of Emperor Johannes retreated southward from April 1888, it carried rinderpest into Abyssinia, reaching Barca in the south by 1890. Almost everywhere rinderpest arrived, it was preceded by drought and locust plagues, the crises combining to create severe famines.10 In much of Africa, the impact was lessened in agropastoral societies, where farming could assume the burden following livestock death. But in Ethiopia, agriculture was based on the ox-plow, and the loss of upwards of 90 percent of cattle was cataclysmic. Harvest failure followed, food prices escalated, and grain imports were impaired. The price of oxen soared, from $2 to $20 or $30; a milk cow cost as much as $40, and even more was paid for the few recovered cattle. Cattle were much more likely to perish in lowland regions along transport routes and where livestock and wildlife concentrated around water sources. Cattle in highlands—such as areas of Ethiopia above 3000 meters—were more likely to survive, particularly because the state and peasants intentionally quarantined their herds from an epizootic known to be in the region since 1888. Nevertheless, Pankhurst records many examples of Ethiopian poetry lamenting the inability to plow the land. Donkeys, mules, and horses were sometimes used as a recourse. Reports of pawning, suicide, social breakdown, even cannibalism, accompanied the famine. Emperor Menelik set an example to his people by using a hoe to till the land in order to encourage recovery. Where rinderpest appeared, it intensified cattle raiding against neighbors who still had cattle. Menelik expanded the kingdom to the south, raiding cattle of Oromo, or those of the Ogaden Somali, although these actions were just as likely to spread the virus.

Tiki and Oba have detailed the catastrophe of rinderpest in southern Ethiopia among the pastoralist Borana Oromo.11 There the epizootic arrived in 1891, followed by a smallpox epidemic. The resulting crisis was remembered as ciinna, “the end of everything,” referring to the total breakdown of social stability that had been based on a thriving pastoral economy. Communities broke up as people scattered seeking survival, often becoming the victims of wild animal predators deprived of normal livestock or wildlife prey. For a time, people struggled to survive by drying the meat of carcasses and selling the hides. The frenzy of trading hides of dead cattle or wildlife for grain, alongside other products like salt, ivory, or coffee, opened Borana to the long-distance caravan trade, which might have spread smallpox. Tula wells—traditional social gathering places for gada (age-grade) rituals—became epicenters for the spread of rinderpest and smallpox, as livestock and wildlife congested during the dry season.

When people abandoned the wells as sources of contagion, the social fabric was also sundered. Some Borana joined Waata hunter-gatherers—an otherwise despised lifestyle—and old food taboos were violated as people ate donkeys, elephants, warthogs, horses, and even carrion. The highlands regions of central Borana were more likely to be spared the epizootic, and their cattle could be used for later restocking, though susceptible to later outbreaks. Regions where camels were the favored livestock, such as Somalia east of Borana, escaped the worst effects of rinderpest. Many Borana went to live among farming communities, relying on social connections that had preceded the crisis. Children were pawned to neighboring people in exchange for food. Women and girls sought relationships with new protectors in different clans and societies. Within a couple of years of the disaster, gada leaders gathered survivors into large settlements for protection and social reconstruction, which became the basis for the social memory of the epizootic, and the means of clan reconstruction, including redeeming pawned children and accepting people back into society who had broken taboos. Systems of resource sharing were reinvented as cattle herds recovered, which allocated future calves to family members based on seniority. Cattle raids aided in the restocking of herds, so that recovery was achieved within a decade.

Rinderpest had far-reaching consequences in the Horn of Africa. It led the Italians to begin to colonize lands abandoned owing to the epizootic, and it forced Menelik to delay his eventual ouster of the Italians from northern Abyssinia at Adwa until 1896, when he could resupply his armies. Perhaps one-third of Ethiopians died from the crisis, and two-thirds of Oromo.

Rinderpest across the Sahel

The trajectory of rinderpest across the Sahel coincided with a drought from the Red Sea to Hausaland in modern Nigeria.12 The virus spread quickly from Massawa northward into eastern Sudan along pastoralist routes and likely through the Red Sea trade. Coupled with a British blockade that deprived the region of grain imports during the war with the Mahdiyya, it exacerbated a regional famine in 1889–1891.13 Previously, Sudanese had exported cattle and hides for durra grain from coastal merchants, but this system completely collapsed. Requisitions of food and cattle during the Mahdist conflict with Abyssinia also spread rinderpest toward the Nile. Hødnebø writes that cattle could reach Omdurman, the Mahdist capital, from Massawa via Kassala within a few days.14 The Austrian missionary Josef Ohrwalder, captive of the Mahdiyya, mentioned a disease raging among cattle in 1889.15 Cows captured from the Shilluk of southern Sudan were sold in Berbera and Gezira in order to restock the herds. Specific Mahdist reference to “a disease which kills all the cattle” came in December 1889, which impaired saqiya cultivation along the Nile that used animal power for water-wheel irrigation. Because Nile River farmers needed four to eight cattle, working in pairs, for two or three hours at a time, to irrigate two to six acres, the loss of oxen was devastating.16 A stretch of some 700 miles along the Nile from Wadi Halfa to Khartoum was irrigated in this way. Further evidence of the cattle plague in the Sudan came in 1900, when Wilhelm Kolle, with experience by then of combating rinderpest in South Africa, believed the rinderpest he observed in Sudan had become enzootic, owing to an epizootic outbreak in about 1890.17

From the Nile, rinderpest spread along the southern Sahel caravan route into Darfur and Chad, and then toward Hausaland, reaching Dakar in 1892. Clive Spinage suggests that camels may have transmitted the virus in sub-Saharan Africa.18 Although transhumance of Fulbe cattle herders skirting the southern Sahel explains the progress of the virus, wildlife migrations also contributed, as livestock and game herds shared pastures and water sources. Moreover, the dependence of Sahelan and trans-Saharan commerce on pack oxen, alongside camels, is an issue not detailed much in the historical literature, but it was of great consequence for the spread of rinderpest in northern Hausaland.

As early as the fall of 1891, a French military column encountered rinderpest on the Senegal River.19 Referred to as a “contagious bovine malady” (maladie contagieuse sur l’espèce bovine), it was reported that all the cattle of the “Moors and Peuls” northeast of Nioro on the route to Timbuktu had been decimated. Tuareg and Sudanese pastoralists claimed that the disease came from the east and had been progressing for a few years, destroying hundreds of thousands of cattle on the spot. At a time of winter rains and flooding along the upper Senegal, cadavers of cattle floated down the river, raising French fears that human health would be affected downriver by what was at the time an unknown disease. A triangle of 180,000 square kilometers from Bakel to Timbuktu to the headwaters of the Senegal and Niger rivers was infected by the “bovine typhus.”

The African Rinderpest Panzootic, 1888–1897Click to view larger

Figure 2. French Estimation of Cattle Epizootic, West Africa, 1891. [Georges] Treille, “Note sur l’Hygiène au Sénégal,” Revue d’Hygiène et de Police Sanitaire 14 (1892): 575.

The French veterinarian M. Petit was charged with creating a sanitary corridor along the Senegal River, with orders to keep out all herds of ruminants for 30 kilometers east to west.20 Traveling in 1890–1892 from Saint Louis in Senegal to the Sokoto Caliphate, Bornu, and onward to Tripoli, the French military officer Parfait-Louis Monteil described a “terrible epizootic” affecting all the lands eastward, completely undermining pastoralists, whose traditional methods of livestock disease control proved ineffective.21 Monteil first encountered the epizootic in 1891 around Dori in modern Burkina Faso, which destroyed his pack oxen and wiped out the herds of the pastoral Fulani of the region. This was the worst epizootic in their memory, far worse than the lungsickness that had infected the region in 1866. A pilgrim arriving from Mecca reported that he had not seen a single ox from Kano to Dori. Monteil noted that wild oxen and antelopes also died of the disease—a good indication that the disease in question was rinderpest. Thousands of unburied ox cadavers polluted the air, and meat putrefied before it could be eaten. Live oxen were slaughtered for their meat before the disease could kill them, and ox prices escalated. Many Fulani were forced to turn to agriculture.

German reports of the epizootic in northern Kamerun are slim and relatively late. In November 1893, Siegfried Passarge reported from the upper Benue River that two years previously a “fearsome cattle sickness” (Rinderseuche) had annihilated the large herds of the Fulani, which he suspected was lungsickness.22 Later, referring to the disease as Rinderpest, he learned that the Bororo Fulani (Wodaabe) saved their cattle by driving them into the wilderness, far from all settlements.23 But most Fulani lost all their cattle and were impoverished and indebted, while the more agriculturally oriented Hausa and Kanuri prospered.24

Holger Weiss has provided the most thorough analysis of the rinderpest epizootic in Sudanic West Africa.25 Focusing on the Sokoto Caliphate and the Bornu Empire, he concluded that, compared to eastern and southern Africa, the contagion was not as destructive because relatively few Sudanic Africans relied exclusively on cattle for their way of life. Most pastoralists, however, Fulbe in general, suffered tremendously, losing over 90 percent of their cattle, as the emir of Katsina told the British resident. The virus was exacerbated by endemic conflict between Sudanic societies, with cattle booty as a principal aim. This may have concentrated diseased cattle at watering sites before it was noticed that some were sick. Following the panzootic, cattle wealth was concentrated in the hands of the elite, as slaves, who formerly often lived independently and kept their own herds, relinquished them to elites in the form of a cattle tax. Sometimes slaves themselves were exchanged for cattle to replenish herds, eroding their prior autonomy. Many cattle-less Fulbe fled to cities to escape starvation, ending their transhumant lifestyle. Rinderpest may very well have fed Islamic interpretations of an impending apocalypse, coming as it did nine years after a comet, which foreshadowed calamity. Weiss sees no ecological breakdown in the central Sudan, such as the expansion of tsetse belts. The strong agricultural base of the central Sudan absorbed pastoralist losses until cattle numbers recovered.

Despite this assessment, it is likely that rinderpest in the central Sudan had a dramatic impact on regional trade. Desert oases were dependent on ox transport of grain and other commodities, and the loss of so many animals in so short a time must have starved Sahelan communities.26

The African Rinderpest Panzootic, 1888–1897Click to view larger

Figure 3. Northern Kamerun, Pack Oxen. Photo courtesy of Bildarchiv der Deutschen Kolonialgesellschaft, Universitätsbibliothek Frankfurt am Main, #014-3002-05.

In the Damergu region north of the Sokoto Caliphate, millet was an important crop to feed local communities, in some cases villages of slave descendants along caravan routes, who supplied grain to Tuareg overlords. Many farmers of the region practiced animal husbandry but engaged in trade during the dry season. Large caravans, with some 2000 to 3000 pack oxen, each carrying about 100 kilograms of millet, journeyed to Agadez to trade for salt and cotton cloth shipped by camel from Tripoli. Much of this salt went to a thriving hide and goat skin trade that sent salted and tanned hides northward to Tripoli with some 8000 camels annually, and from there to Europe and the United States.27 As in the Horn of Africa, rinderpest created a temporary spike in the percentage of cattle hides in this trade, as devastated pastoral communities struggled to recoup some of their cattle losses. Urban butchers, accustomed to supplying hides and skins to the local leather industry, may have also slaughtered animals for their meat and hides before they could succumb to the new epizootic. The value of Sudanic “skins” passing through Tripoli rose from about £4000 in 1886 to £65,000 in 1898, and perhaps £200,000 alone in 1892, coinciding with rinderpest.28

Rinderpest and Colonial Conquest in East Africa

The rinderpest epizootic followed different pathways southward into East Africa, given how widespread it was in the greater Horn of Africa and southern Sudan by 1890. By 1890–1891, the southeastern border of Sudan was infected, perhaps by game migrating from drought-ridden Ethiopia, and by military raids of the Mahdiyya.29 The western Rift Valley and Nile River routes facilitated rinderpest arriving in Uganda and the Great Lakes region. From southern Ethiopia, the eastern Rift Valley chain of lakes aided the arrival of rinderpest into Kenya and Maasailand. There is also evidence that rinderpest was carried down the coast to Lamu and Witu with Somali and Oromo livestock and hide traders, and possibly by sea to Zanzibar and the East African mainland.30 Cattle from Aden often provisioned coastal shipping and British and German military conquest of the mainland.

As in Sudanic Africa and the Horn, rinderpest came not long after a devastating lungsickness epizootic, with which travelers often confused it, and was followed by a panoply of human epidemics, notably smallpox. In the memory of the pastoral Maasai, the entire period was “emutai,” because it “finished off completely” Maasai cattle and way of life, similar to the Borana Oromo to the north.31 From 1890 into 1891, rinderpest spread in Kenya, reaching the upper Pangani River in modern Tanzania by February 1891. Called olodua by Maasai, owing to the infection of the gall bladder that was an obvious symptom, and sotoka in Swahili, it was extremely virulent, wiping out herds of seemingly healthy cattle almost overnight, leaving just a handful alive. Unlike lungsickness, for which Maasai and other Africans had methods of inoculation using infectious material, no such therapy was effective for rinderpest. Herd movement, collective corralling, social exchange of animals, seasonal concentration at waterholes, and transhumant grazing all contributed to the rapid spread of the disease. Methods of livestock disease control of the time—running stock as far from outbreak foci as possible, which worked for the Bororo Fulani in Hausaland,—may have spread the disease in Maasailand. Kenyan farming communities, living at higher elevations and more reliant on goats, did not suffer as badly; they knew to isolate their herds from reports of epizootic in the plains, a practice learned recently in the case of lungsickness. According to Lonsdale, the Nandi killed a ritual expert who was blamed for initiating a raid that may have introduced rinderpest in 1890.32

The consequence of rinderpest for the Maasai was cataclysmic.33 For the next decade, Maasai sections warred with each other and raided neighboring Africans for cattle, while British military colonizers had easier entry into the country. The system of stock loans, which formerly tided families over for short periods, broke down, and stronger Maasai sections dominated weaker sections. The Purko Maasai came to terms with the British to buy time for recovery, while Germans across the border aimed at the complete breaking of Loitai Maasai. Smallpox made inroads owing to survival strategies, as people, malnourished from lack of dairy foods and meat, fled to agrarian communities and trade centers, where smallpox was carried by caravans. Many Maasai survived by pawning women and children to neighboring farmers, like Kikuyu, in exchange for grain. Prices for scarce surviving cattle became inflated, making bride wealth unattainable for many men. Dispersal broke up neighborhoods, scattered families, separated close relatives, and upset family and age structures. Women may have survived better than men, joining other societies as wives and dependents, changing ethnic identity in the process. Maasai women’s role as paashe, essentially cultural and trade intermediaries between their societies and neighboring farmers or hunters, enabled them to survive by drawing on past relationships.34 Some women resorted to prostitution in Nairobi, as caravan followers, in railway camps, or fled to the coast to work on plantations.35 It was in part to prepare for possible epizootics that Maasai had long established cultural linkages with linguistically related Arusha on Mount Meru, who husbanded cattle on mountain pastures and helped to recoup herds.36 In other cases, Maasai raided mountain farmers in the Usambaras, on Mount Kilimanjaro, and Umbulu in central Tanzania, where some cattle survived the epizootic owing to stall feeding, or protection in tembe stockades built into hillsides. In both British and German East Africa, Maasai survived by working as mercenaries, askari soldiers, policemen, and irregulars. They were sometimes paid with livestock confiscated from regions of colonial conflict. Others took shelter with missionaries. A Catholic missionary on Mount Kilimanjaro reported in August 1893 that dozens of Maasai children, aged two to ten, had been pawned by their parents to Chagga one or two years previously, at the time of the epizootic, in exchange for food, many ending up at the mission station.37

The African Rinderpest Panzootic, 1888–1897Click to view larger

Figure 4. Maasai and Chagga Children at Kilema Mission Station, Kilimanjaro, 1890s. Photo courtesy of Bildarchiv der Deutschen Kolonialgesellschaft, Universitätsbibliothek Frankfurt am Main, #001-0047-13.

The missionary described the Maasai of the region as “close to extinction” (Aussterben), ruined by “a devastating livestock disease.” The Austrian geographer Oskar Baumann, passing through the Maasai steppe south of Mounts Kilimanjaro and Meru in late 1892, noted that Maasai had lost virtually all their cattle to the “devastating cattle disease” and survived on the peripheries of the steppe as beggars or farmers, or joined with Ndorobo hunters.38

While it seems clear that rinderpest entered Maasailand from the north, another entry point may have been from the coast, following the path of German conquest up the Pangani River and westward along the central caravan route to Mpwapwa. According to the British veterinarian William Littlewood, writing fifteen years after the fact, although the German military commander Hermann von Wissmann understood that Italian cattle imports into Massawa in 1888 may have been infectious, he himself provisioned his expedition into the interior of German East Africa in 1888–1889 during the Abushiri rebellion with cattle from Bombay or Aden that may have been infected.39 On his return to Germany through Egypt, his descriptions of the disease sounded to Littlewood like rinderpest. The cattle losses on the expedition were so great as to hamper its progress. Two years later, in early 1891, Wissmann described an epizootic on lower Kilimanjaro that “poisoned the air around Maasai kraals with dead cattle” and devastated wildlife, especially Cape buffalo.40

In August 1891, the British government in Zanzibar banned cattle imports from British East Africa owing to reports of a raging epizootic. The German consul referred to the disease as rinderpest, which, he stated, extended on the mainland north to Cape Guardafi, in easternmost Somalia. In March 1892, the disease still plagued the Swahili coast from Lamu to Vanga near the border of German East Africa. At about that time, a British boundary commission reported that nearby Digo people had no more cattle owing to pestilence and Maasai forays.41 In Upare region, it was noted that the cattle plague had also annihilated much of the wildlife.

An important factor in the continued spread of the disease, which had been eliminated in Germany over a decade earlier by strong veterinary policing, was the German authorities’ stubborn refusal to accept the fact that the epizootic was really rinderpest. Although a staff doctor autopsied a cow outside of Dar es Salaam in August 1892 and pronounced it to have died from pestis bovina, German officialdom relied on expert veterinary opinion. Not until 1896 did they finally accept that the disease that by then had reached South Africa was rinderpest. International sanitary agreements would have banned cattle exports from German East Africa if rinderpest were present, and the cattle trade to southern Africa was important for export revenues. In the meantime, several years elapsed when the cattle trade continued from German East Africa by sea to Mozambique and southern Africa, and by land into northern Rhodesia. Germans only stanched this trade in 1893 to help the herds of colonial Tanzania to recover. The British consul in Berlin protested the closure of the Nyasa-Tanganyika corridor, citing the cattle needs of white settlers in northern Rhodesia. Such reports indicate that the cattle trade helped bring the virus into southern Africa.

Rinderpest and Social Change in the Great Lakes

The trajectory of rinderpest into the Great Lakes—southwestern Uganda, Ruanda, Urundi, and northwest Tanzania—has not received much attention, but it was consequential in a region where elite and royal identity was associated with control of cattle.

The African Rinderpest Panzootic, 1888–1897Click to view larger

Figure 5. “Tutsi” Cattle. Photo courtesy of Bildarchiv der Deutschen Kolonialgesellschaft, Universitätsbibliothek Frankfurt am Main, #005-1128-15.

Travelers reported a disease that was probably rinderpest around Lake Victoria by fall 1890. The abolitionist Horace Waller wrote in 1892 that “a sort of rinderpest has swept through the whole of the part of Africa, [the coast to Lake Victoria] and the people who are in possession as pastoral tribes are at present without capital.”42 He suggested that some would seek wage labor constructing the Uganda railway, while others would work as porters and help replace the use of hired slaves on caravans. Emin Pasha wrote in his diary that, around Bukoba, cattle were dying every day from rampant disease. Franz Stuhlmann, traveling with him, noted that only six of their ninety cattle survived.43 Frederick Lugard, in the Buddu and Ankole regions of Uganda northwest of Lake Victoria in June 1891, described a “terrible plague which has spread inwards through East Africa [that] has carried off millions of cattle, and has inflicted a terrible blow on the pastoral tribes. No such epidemic has visited Africa within the memory of man”44 Noting that the plague had hit the pastoral Huma elite particularly hard and that the “hides of these diseased cattle” were being exported in the tens of thousands, Lugard worried that Britain might become infected. High wildlife mortality helps substantiate that the disease in question was rinderpest. In the environs of Buhaya, the cattle plague caused starvation among the Huma, butter being virtually unattainable, mitigated only by the ability of subaltern farmers to feed those who lost their cattle.45 Around Lake Albert in the Ituri region of the eastern Congo, Stuhlmann reported that the livestock disease killed wildlife and forced the local Lenu people to abandon cattle rearing. Most historians of Buhaya believe that in subsequent decades rinderpest led the Huma elite to take up coffee and banana cultivation as a substitute for their former monopoly of cattle.

From Ankole, rinderpest spread into Ruanda and Urundi, arriving sometime between 1890 and 1892. There it was called muryamo “sleeping,” killing 50 to 80 percent of herds in German East Africa’s richest cattle region.46 As in virtually all parts of Africa where rinderpest arrived, people attributed the epizootic and concomitant human diseases to the advance of European colonizers, missionaries, and foreign traders.47 Owing to the hilly landscape of much of the region, Ruanda and Urundi did not suffer as badly as more exposed locales. Bernard Lugan believes that the tsetse-infested landscape that surrounded Ruanda and Urundi acted as a barrier to partially insulate the region.48 Nevertheless, Roger Botte describes the epizootic as apocalyptic, unprecedented in virulence, decimating the herds and overthrowing established power structures. Histories of the region have not addressed the issue of how the construction of “Tutsi” and “Hutu” identities, often associated with ownership or not of cattle, were affected by the loss of so many cattle so suddenly. David Newbury suggests that “relations within the kingdom were transformed, for example, as the court expropriated many of the remaining cattle, in an attempt to reconstitute the royal herds.”49

Rinderpest and the Breakdown of Environmental Control

Many historians have speculated about how rinderpest affected wildlife ecologies in Africa and environmental history broadly speaking.50 Travelers, obsessed with sport hunting and provisioning caravans with fresh meat, were often more struck by the mortality of wildlife than cattle. Wissmann, as Reichskommissar in German East Africa, after witnessing the large-scale death of ungulates around Mount Kilimanjaro, implemented a hunting ordinance for Moshi (Kilimanjaro) District on February 23, 1891, to protect fauna.51 This measure was followed in the next few years by ordinances regulating hunting and creating two hunting reserves in 1896, which led to the 1900 London Wildlife Convention that launched the demarcation of wildlife reserves in many parts of Africa. Although the scattering of African pastoralists following rinderpest made them victims of predatory animals like lions and hyenas, now deprived of normal cattle or wild food sources, the hamstringing of African hunting further opened rural communities to crop destruction by baboons, wild pigs, antelopes, and elephants. From Uzigua near the coast of Tanzania to Bunyoro in Uganda on the Congo border, the combined devastations of rinderpest, smallpox, colonial conquest, and disruptions in African environmental control, such as the use of fire, upset the ability of many communities to maintain healthy landscapes.

A related argument is that cattle and wildlife destruction from rinderpest transformed African landscapes, expanding tsetse-habitats and sleeping sickness by killing animals whose grazing had kept them in check.52 By scattering human and livestock populations in some areas, rinderpest, alongside human diseases and colonial conquest, impaired environmental control, which may have upset “host–vector contact” which East Africans used to maintain limited immunity to livestock diseases like bovine sleeping sickness and East Coast Fever.53 Conversely, some scholars believe that by killing hundreds of thousands of animals rapidly, rinderpest starved tsetse flies of the blood meals needed to spread trypanosomes and for a time allowed for healthier cattle environments once recovery began.54 Although rinderpest was usually preceded by drought, pastures were generally intact after rinderpest burnt itself out, allowing for recovery within five or so years. But some wildlife that succumbed to rinderpest, such as wild pigs, recovered rapidly, becoming a hazard for farming communities for a generation.

Rinderpest in the Rhodesias, 1892–1897: Veterinary Policing and Rebellion

Lying in the tsetse belt, southeastern German East Africa was generally devoid of cattle. But evidence suggests that wildlife migrations may have spread the epizootic southward toward the border with Portuguese East Africa. In 1896, inhabitants of the Ngindo region reported that a disease had killed buffalo and antelope in the preceding years.55 Wildlife migrations may also have brought the virus to the northern shore of Lake Nyasa, where it was reported by July 1892.56 In Northern Rhodesia, Africans transported meat from dead game “backwards and forwards” in canoes, which may have spread the virus to villages with cattle.57 Lionel Decle concurred that an epizootic called chinpumba appeared around Lake Nyasa in 1892, having spread down the Lake Tanganyika–Lake Nyasa corridor, killing cattle and wildlife.58 Reports of the southward trajectory of a cattle plague were serious enough that the governments of the Cape Colony and Natal in late 1892 banned the import of cattle by sea from all East African ports, and reportedly prepared measures to stanch the cattle trade by land.59

Most histories of rinderpest point out that the Zambezi River provided a temporary barrier to the spread of rinderpest into southern Africa. By the time the virus breached the river, settlers from South Africa had established themselves under the aegis of the British South Africa Company of Cecil Rhodes, and a vibrant ox-wagon transport system linked the Rhodesias to Cape Colony through Bechuanaland. Cattle also entered the region through the Mozambican port of Beira. Settlers, missionaries, and some Africans used plow oxen for agriculture. As an extension of the settler economies of South Africa, southern Rhodesia offered a political ecology that for the first time in Africa invited the kind of veterinary police measures that the British had used during the rinderpest epizootic in the United Kingdom in 1865 and that other Europeans had practiced successfully at home.60

With telegraph connections to Cape Town, the Colonial Veterinary Surgeon, Duncan Hutcheon, was informed in early 1896 that a cattle plague had crossed the Zambezi. Knowing that a qualified veterinarian, Charles Gray, worked as a telegraph operator in northern Bechuanaland, Gray was sent to investigate the disease, which he diagnosed on March 18 to be rinderpest.61 Although breakthroughs in vaccines, serum therapy, and germ theory were advancing rapidly in 1890s Europe, once rinderpest was diagnosed in Rhodesia, the Cape Animal Diseases Act was put into force, which was based on British quarantine policy. “Stamping out measures” included isolating herds suspected of infection, killing all cattle believed to have come into contact with the disease, burying the cadavers, stopping all cattle traffic on roadways, disinfecting people and their belongings at border stations, fencing in localities to protect disease-free cattle from infected animals, and partial compensation to encourage compliance. The implementation of these measures implied a strong police presence. The recent conquest of the Ndebele in southwest Rhodesia in 1893, including the confiscation of all their cattle by the British South Africa Company (BSAC), provided a framework for stamping out policy.

Rinderpest in southern Rhodesia was a precipitating factor in the 1896 chimurenga uprising against the BSAC, undertaken by the Ndebele around Bulawayo and Shona around Salisbury. Following the 1893 war, the BSAC had seized all Ndebele cattle, some 90,000 head, branded them as BSAC property, and then apportioned them to African allies for care. Periodically, the BSAC requisitioned some to provision company police, and none could be sold without company approval. From the fall of 1895, this was a major grievance leading to the 1896 uprising. Meanwhile, rinderpest breached the Zambezi and spread throughout Rhodesia. In general, Africans attributed rinderpest to European rule, believing it to be a means of undermining African autonomy. The BSAC agent Frederick Selous, however, suggested another theory. He reported that he was approached by an elderly relative of the deceased Ndebele king Lobengula, called Umlugulu, a man with political authority and connections to religious shrines, who offered him unbranded cattle to be herded with his own, even offering to sell them at whatever price Selous named.62 Selous was suspicious of cattle with no clear provenance, which were technically contraband. At a time when cattle had already begun to die from rinderpest, it suggests that Umlugulu hoped to infect settler herds. At about that time, a lunar eclipse portended the demise of white people in the land, and it was said that Lobengula had arisen to lead an army against them and that rinderpest had been sent by the Mlimo spirit of Matopos to aid this effort.

The disease sometimes called “Zambezi cattle fever” appeared around Bulawayo in February 1896, at a time of drought and locust plagues that affected all of southern Africa.63 As a BSAC cattle inspector, Selous was charged with preventing the movement of cattle between the Mzingwane and Insiza rivers of Matabeleland from infected locales to main roads, where ox-wagon transport was crucial to maintain supplies from Cape Colony to settlers and mining districts.64 Yet, reliance on ox wagons to provision Bulawayo and mining districts frustrated quarantines.

The African Rinderpest Panzootic, 1888–1897Click to view larger

Figure 6. Dead Ox in Rhodesia. Frederick Courtney Selous, Sunshine and Storm in Rhodesia (London: Rowland Ward & Co., 1896), following 114. Image courtesy of HathiTrust Digital Library.

As ox teams incurred the virus, the BSAC ordered all suspect cattle to be killed, offering some compensation to African allies and settlers. These actions coincided with the African uprising. BSAC and Ndebele forces alike fought the war by capturing cattle, so attempts to control cattle movement broke down, spreading the virus by mixing diseased and healthy cattle in kraals. Although rinderpest severely undermined Africans at the time of the war, it also put the nascent settler colony in dire straits and severely handicapped BSAC forces, which needed to be supplied hundreds of miles away from Mafikeng. Early in 1896, Selous judged there to be 100,000 cattle in Matabeleland, but by the end of the year he guessed the number had fallen to only 500. An Ndebele mine worker, interviewed in 1979, recalled that workers initially had plenty of meat from dead cattle slaughtered preemptively.65 But for Africans in general, famine followed, and people ate “ox-skins, rinderpest ones, boiled in water.”66 In a region that had well over 200,000 cattle before the 1893 uprising, milk was almost impossible to acquire, and malnutrition was rife. The South African press reported that rinderpest sparked the 1896 uprising, which made British officialdom cautious about how to address the epizootic once it reached South Africa late in 1896.

Rinderpest in South Africa: From “Stamping Out” to Vaccine Breakthroughs

Rinderpest spread rapidly into South and Southwest Africa through Bechuanaland during 1896, using trek oxen, wildlife, and cattle transhumance.

The African Rinderpest Panzootic, 1888–1897Click to view larger

Figure 7. Ox Wagon in Southwest Africa. Photo courtesy of Bildarchiv der Deutschen Kolonialgesellschaft, Universitätsbibliothek Frankfurt am Main, # 071-2403-03

Being a year of “the worst drought in living memory,” cattle and wildlife congregated around watering places.67 Dry season grazing in July 1896 also increased herd contact. Chief Khama of Bechuanaland reported that his people lost 800,000 of one million cattle.68 Tswana disease management, like Maasai, dispersed cattle to isolated locales to wait out passing diseases, but this came too late to protect their herds. Disease prevention was frustrated in southern Bechuanaland, recently annexed to Cape Colony, owing to confinement of Africans in reserves and land alienation to white settlers. The British in the Cape and Afrikaner government in the Transvaal tried to stanch the disease with armed border patrols, prohibitions on ox wagons and other cattle movements, hundreds of miles of barbed wire fencing, extermination of infected herds, some monetary compensation (usually half the value of the cattle), and curbs on the trade in cattle products.69 The Transvaal government spent £5000 per day fighting the epizootic in August 1896 to protect a national herd of about 1.2 million. These measures slowed, but did not stop the progress of the disease. Around Kuruman in the Cape, quarantines prevented importation of food and other goods by ox wagon.70 Widespread tension emerged between African, Afrikaner, and English stock farmers over mutual suspicion of spreading the disease and over government policy of shooting healthy cattle that had contact with infected herds.

By September 1896, Cape policy was to abandon the lands north of the Orange River as lost to rinderpest, and over £600,000—one tenth of annual government expenditures—was approved to create a sanitary corridor stretching the entire length of the Orange River, extending along the borders of Basutoland, and eventually Natal and the Transkei. Hundreds of miles of barbed wire fences separated the Cape from the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. Farmers were encouraged to fence their own lands with free freight on fencing. The Orange River line held for about four months but was breached by March 1897. From there rinderpest spread throughout South Africa in waves.

It was apparent that veterinary police measures had failed to stanch the epizootic. But Gray’s diagnosis of rinderpest in March 1896 encouraged medical and veterinary researchers from Europe and South Africa to search for a vaccine therapy.71 In October 1896, the Cape government, with support from the DeBeers diamond group, hired the German bacteriologist Robert Koch to come to Kimberley to research a serum therapy for rinderpest.72 (Koch was the first to identify the bacilli of anthrax and tuberculosis.) Koch’s earlier investigations of rinderpest in Germany were stymied by lack of infectious material, so Africa offered him a field for further work.73 He learned that farmers in South Africa often used folk remedies against the epizootic that seemed effective, such as soaking wool in bile from infected cattle, and inserting it under the skin or in the tail of the animal. In addition, several Russian-based researchers had by then reported success in using blood serums to treat Russian cattle infected with rinderpest. Amateur and expert vaccination methods suggested a path that would allow the retreat from “politically confrontational policies of veterinary policing.”74 The government of the South African Republic enlisted two researchers from the Pasteur Institute in Paris, the Pole Jean Danysz and the Belgian Jules Bordet, alongside the Swiss Arnold Theiler, employed as the government veterinarian, and Herbert Watkins-Pritchford, Principal Veterinary Surgeon in Natal. A British bacteriologist from the Cape, Alexander Edington, was already at work on a vaccine, as was the Cape Medical Officer, George Turner. There was both competition and cooperation in the production of effective methods of vaccination in the next few years. Rival camps produced combinations of vaccines derived from infectious bile, infectious blood, and blood from recovered cattle, some producing temporary immunities, others eventually conferring long-lasting immunity by inducing nondeadly fever reactions in cattle. Turner and Wilhelm Kolle, picking up from Koch at the Kimberley research station, developed a fortified serum by serially inoculating a healthy animal with virulent blood, with ever larger doses.

The African Rinderpest Panzootic, 1888–1897Click to view larger

Figure 8. Harvesting Blood for Serum, Cape Colony, c. 1902. Agricultural Journal of the Cape of Good Hope 23 (1903), after 72.

When injected simultaneously with a small amount of virulent blood, a lasting, active immunity was achieved. Each method required that some cattle be sacrificed to harvest bile and blood, but in general, by 1897, vaccine therapies succeeded in limiting rinderpest mortality from over 90 percent to less than 20 percent in some cases. It was also true that early vaccines were risky, of poor quality, or unstable, and sometimes infected healthy herds with rinderpest or other animal diseases.

Rinderpest and Social Change in South Africa

The rinderpest epizootic in South Africa led to massive social and political disturbances. Many Africans and Afrikaners resisted forced culling of healthy cattle in regions of rinderpest. In October 1896, for example, a rinderpest constable was murdered in the Langeberg reserve. Suspicions that vaccines were really a means for the settler governments to spread rinderpest and force Africans into poverty, land expropriation, and the labor market were also rife, especially before vaccine therapy was mastered. The Langeberg rebellion in southern Bechuanaland was sparked in November 1896 when seventeen cattle that wandered out of the Taung reserve were shot to prevent possible rinderpest contamination.75 Prior fencing in of reserves crippled local ox-wagon transport, impaired food procurement, crowded cattle, and exacerbated rinderpest. Early experimental inoculations seemed to spread the virus; some Tswana believed that officials brought rinderpest in bottles to infect the herds.

Among Africans on the borderlands of East Griqualand, Pondoland, Basutoland, and the Transkei, fencing against rinderpest was suspected to be a prelude to expropriating land for white settlement and was sometimes thwarted with violence.76 Rumors of African unrest and possible uprisings owing to rinderpest, as in Matabeleland, worried settlers. Charles Ballard argues that rinderpest was among the natural disasters—besides drought, locusts, and other crop pests—that, combined with colonial rule, ended a period of prosperity among Natal’s peasantry and ushered in deterioration.77 The Natal government spent £80 per mile to fence 553 miles of border, drafting some 883 men for the work, and granted loans to white farmers to fence their lands. Throughout southern Africa, rinderpest created an urgency to fence, eroding transhumant pastoralism as a way of life.78 Some 7889 tons of fencing worth £72,271 were imported into Natal in 1896 alone.

Rinderpest-control measures caused great resentment. Natal railway passengers were stopped at borders for disinfection, but only Africans were made to disrobe completely and re-clothe themselves with wet garments. Mountain passes to Basutoland were dynamited to keep out trek oxen, tripling transport costs. Railway construction was expedited to replace ox wagons. Stamping out was practiced until vaccines were available in July 1897. White settlers were both more accepting of vaccines and prioritized as recipients. African communal grazing also put their cattle at greater risk than settler cattle separated in fenced paddocks. As a result, overall Natal settler cattle losses were about 65 percent, but much higher for Africans. For Natal Africans, rinderpest was a turning point, forcing some to work in mines or towns, to postpone marriage for lack of cattle, and to purchase salted cattle from white farmers at inflated prices.

In Basutoland, according to Pule Phoofolo, rinderpest was a setback, hastening, but not causing, structural change.79 Because the epizootic first came late in 1897, the Sotho were able to capitalize on earlier losses of oxen in neighboring territories by selling grain and meat at high prices. Yet, this depleted the kingdom of surpluses when rinderpest eventually hit, by which time the Cape and Orange Free State closed their borders to trade and population movement. Heavy cattle losses crippled plow agriculture and milk production, forced women to resort to hoe cultivation, and compelled men to migrate for labor on settler farms or in mines to recover cattle with wages. Tax obligations were doubled, despite the crisis. Recovery was partially achieved by raising sheep, by selling cattle hides, and by using horses and mules in lieu of plow oxen. Surviving “salted” cattle were sold to white settlers in the Orange Free State to purchase breeding stock. The late arrival of rinderpest to Basutoland enabled Koch’s bile method to be tested fairly effectively and was accepted by Basotho. Two-thirds of inoculated cattle survived, keeping overall Basotho losses to about 40 percent, preserving some 70,000 head. On balance, rinderpest did not cause a major famine, society did not collapse, and recovery was quick.

Phoofolo traces similar outcomes for the Transkei region across the border, but there was greater resistance to vaccination there, and as a result, greater cattle mortality occurred, at about 70 percent.80 Rinderpest was known in this region as masilingane, “let us all be equal” because it hit the cattle of rich and poor alike, but in reality wealthy cattle owners absorbed losses more easily and recovered faster. But even poor families recouped herds in part by marrying off daughters to receive cattle as bride wealth. Charles van Onselen, in contrast, concluded that rinderpest was a major factor in the proletarianization of African peasants, and he emphasized famine, malnourishment, loss of independence of transport riders, and political unrest as outcomes.81

In the Gaza region of southern Mozambique, horse sickness and rinderpest reportedly stalled Portuguese plans to replace African porterage with ox carts in about 1897, which would free up labor to be exported for mine work.82 Africans lost virtually all their cattle, even as a vaccine was brought in from the Transvaal. In northern Mozambique, in the lands of the Mozambique Company around Beira, rinderpest was described as a temporary calamity that deprived the region of meat, but cattle could be restocked from Madagascar.83

Some historians have addressed the issue of landscape change in South Africa resulting from the epizootic. Neil Parsons and Randall Packard suggest that rinderpest destroyed livestock and wildlife hosts of tsetse flies in the Limpopo basin, delayed European settlement, and opened the Transvaal lowveld up to African stock farmers after cattle numbers recovered.84 Jane Carruthers agrees that “Nagana [bovine sleeping sickness] had disappeared from the Transvaal and Natal” following the outbreak of rinderpest in 1896.85 Nevertheless, the loss of wildlife to rinderpest led to a public outcry to protect game, which influenced South African Republic President Paul Kruger’s proclamation of new Transvaal game reserves that evolved into Kruger National Park. Wildlife death from rinderpest also was a motive for game reserves and hunting laws in British Central Africa.86

Owing to the dearth of cattle from rinderpest and from the South African War of 1899–1902, a demand arose for imported livestock, with unforeseen repercussions. Madagascar, spared rinderpest, became a major supplier.87 German East Africa also exported cattle once herds recovered in the late 1890s. As a result, East Coast Fever (theileriosis), previously unknown in Rhodesia and South Africa, spread along with their tick hosts, infested grasslands, and created a new epizootic after the turn of the century.88 As rinderpest was eliminated in South Africa using serum therapy following a new outbreak in 1902, East Coast Fever emerged as a major cattle scourge of the region.

Rinderpest and the “Red Line” in Southwest Africa

German officials attended the Vryburg Conference on rinderpest in Cape Colony in August 1896 and quickly mobilized to bar the epizootic from Southwest Africa (modern Namibia), which they finally acknowledged was rinderpest. From November 1896 to February 1897, the German administration formed a chain of military outposts in the north and east of the colony to prevent cattle incursions, which evolved over time into the “red line” that separates northern Namibia from the south ecologically.89 Orders to kill all wildlife in the sanitary corridor thus created showed the Germans’ final recognition of the rinderpest–wildlife connection. Before then, the epizootic in Bechuanaland had led to the closure of cattle and ox-wagon routes to and from Ovamboland in Namibia’s north, ending a vibrant trade and causing economic depression.90 Yet, ox wagons and wildlife alike brought the virus to Ovamboland. Although elites of the region, who for decades had exported cattle to Angola, Gabon, Cape Colony, and even St. Helena, recouped herds over the next decade by raiding neighbors, commoners never recovered their former prosperity and were forced into labor migration. Meat became a luxury, manure for fertilizer was scarce, leather became a rich man’s commodity, butter and milk were unavailable for a time, and initiation ceremonies that had relied on cattle were delayed.

South of the Red Line, where the German administration concentrated on fighting the epizootic, rinderpest breached the barrier by 1897, devastating the mostly pastoral Nama and Herero.91 Their attempts to preserve their herds by migrating to peripheries failed. Forced cattle killing where rinderpest was detected mirrored South Africa’s stamping out polices, until the German veterinarian Paul Kohlstock, who had worked alongside Koch in Kimberley, was brought in by June 1897 to administer bile vaccination. Some Herero men were employed to assist in quarantines, culling, and administration of vaccines, some recouping herds as payment. Cattle mortality was substantial, at about 50 percent in some regions, including animals sacrificed to harvest bile; 95 percent of cattle died where vaccines were resisted or unavailable. Jan-Bart Gewald writes that rinderpest impoverished the Herero, facilitated colonialism, and substantially increased Herero’s dependence on colonial power structures. New African elites emerged who profited from colonial alliances. A horrendous famine ensued; some people dug up buried cattle to consume their marrow, and human diseases erupted as rotting carcasses polluted water. Some cattle keepers turned to agriculture, others to labor migration and intense cattle raiding. Much Herero land was sold off to weather the crisis, opening more land to white settlement and making cattle ranching a profitable venture, devoid of African competition. Nama pastoralists, who used oxen both for a food economy and for transport animals, suffered a similar crippling of their economy.

The African Rinderpest Panzootic, 1888–1897Click to view larger

Figure 9. Nama Women on Oxen. Photo courtesy of Bildarchiv der Deutschen Kolonialgesellschaft, Universitätsbibliothek Frankfurt am Main, #009-2067-14.


Sporadic outbreaks of rinderpest occurred in southern Africa in the immediate aftermath of the South African War and in Southwest Africa during the Nama–Herero rebellion (1904–1905), but quarantines and serum inoculations succeeded in eradicating the virus from the region thereafter.92 Elsewhere in Africa, rinderpest became enzootic, with periodic epizootic outbreaks. Because the panzootic of the 1890s did not hit sub-Saharan Africa simultaneously, but in waves over a decade, it allowed partial herd recovery in one region to help resupply other areas. As noted earlier, sometimes this process introduced new livestock diseases, such as theileriosis from East Africa into southern Africa. In most regions, recovered immune cattle were husbanded to create new herds, and export of female cattle was discouraged. Even in a region hard hit by the epizootic, such as German East Africa, where no vaccines were available before 1898, hundreds of thousands of cattle must have survived to allow for almost total recovery twenty years after the initial outbreak. It is possible that some less virulent strains of rinderpest allowed for easier recovery in some regions. For the next century, periodic rinderpest outbreaks became part of the political ecology of cattle regions of Africa north of the Zambezi, often maintained in wildlife populations increasingly protected in game reserves. Following World War I, when rinderpest had revived, much of East Africa was sacrificed to rinderpest in order to protect the settler-dominated cattle economies of southern Africa. The ongoing presence of rinderpest in many regions—alongside other livestock diseases—closed much of Africa to an international trade in cattle and frozen or chilled beef. Despite improved vaccines in the interwar years, and especially the Plowright TCRV vaccine by 1960, lack of availability allowed epizootic rinderpest to break out periodically, particularly alongside drought and war.

The African Rinderpest Panzootic, 1888–1897Click to view larger

Figure 10. Inoculating a Cow against Rinderpest, Abuko, Gambia, 1959. Photo courtesy of British National Archives, CO 1069-28-19 via Wikimedia Commons (Open Government Licence v1.0).

Between 1980 and 1983, some $2 billion was lost to a rinderpest epizootic in Nigeria, exacerbated by drought and complicating livestock diseases, with far-reaching social consequences.93 The Global Rinderpest Eradication Campaign of 1993 was an aggressive vaccination campaign that eliminated the last remaining occurrences of the virus in Africa and Asia. And finally, in 2011, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE–Office International des Epizooties) declared the world free of rinderpest virus.

Discussion of the Literature

Early historical scholarship (Pankhurst, van Onselen, Ballard, Saker and Aldridge, Ranger, Beinart, and Bundy, and Moorsom and Clarence-Smith) examined how the rinderpest panzootic facilitated the European colonial conquest, sparked African resistance, and led to gradual proletarianization and land dispossession, especially in southern Africa. Later histories (Phoofolo, Gewald, Kreike, Waller, and Tiki and Oba), drawing on African memories of the panzootic, were more attentive to African agency and resilience. East African scholars of rinderpest (Kjekshus, Giblin, Waller), influenced by John Ford’s treatment of long-term ecological change in Africa, sought precedents to drought, famine, agricultural decline, tsetse expansion, and demographic crisis in Africa of the late 1960s and 1970s. A longstanding interest in medical and veterinary breakthroughs in rinderpest research (Mack, Mutowo, Gilfoyle, Miescher, Sunseri) evolved from a triumphalist narrative on vaccine development to a focus on differential access to serum therapies, indigenous contributions to veterinary knowledge, and transnational aspects of vaccine research. Recent scholarship (Jacobs, Marquardt) has also drawn on political ecology and environmental history, and the role of landscapes and racialized social and political structures in facilitating the advance of rinderpest virus. Gaps remain in our understanding of the historical impact of the rinderpest panzootic, particularly in North and West Africa. Outside of southern Africa, rinderpest continued as a problem for the 20th century, intersecting with warfare, the proliferation of wildlife reserves, the evolution of African veterinary science, and the development of the livestock industry.

Primary Sources

Oral traditions are the main source for African perspectives on the rinderpest panzootic, most notably in the work of Pankhurst, Waller, and Tiki and Oba. They usually associate the rinderpest epizootic with the onset of colonial rule and accompanying crises, including prior livestock diseases, human epidemics, drought, wildlife predations, and locust plagues. Some reference cosmological events, such as comets and eclipses. The earliest published sources include travelers’ reports of explorers, missionaries, colonial officers, and sport hunters, and accounts from colonial and missionary newspapers, many of which confused rinderpest with other livestock diseases, especially lungsickness, anthrax, East Coast Fever, and foot and mouth disease. From 1891, colonial governments quickly assembled documentation on African livestock diseases, much of which is housed in national archives in Africa and Europe. After 1896 in Europe and especially South Africa, international rinderpest commissions, nascent colonial veterinary departments, and agricultural and veterinary journals collected information on rinderpest. Clive Spinage’s encyclopedic Cattle Plague: A History includes an extensive bibliography of published primary and secondary sources for rinderpest across the globe, including historic, scientific, and literary sources. Many published primary sources are available in digitized format from HathiTrust. Here one can find first-hand accounts of the panzootic, including those by Monteil, Passarge, Lugard, Baumann, Selous, Stuhlmann, Paulitschke, and Ohrwalder; contemporary journals that addressed African conditions, such as Bulletin du Comité de l’Afrique Française, Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, Revue d’Hygiène et de Police Sanitaire, Verhandlungen der Gesellschaft für Erdkunde zu Berlin, Agricultural Journal of the Cape of Good Hope, Journal of Comparative Pathology and Therapeutics, Deutsches Kolonial-Blatt, and Annali d’Igiene Sperimentale; and published documents, such as Cape Colony Department of Agriculture, Report of the Colonial Veterinary Surgeon and the Assistant Veterinary Surgeons for the Year 1896 and Correspondence Relating to the Outbreak of Rinderpest in South Africa in March 1896. C.8141.94

Further Reading

Ballard, Charles. “The Repercussions of Rinderpest: Cattle Plague and Peasant Decline in Colonial Natal.” International Journal of African Historical Studies 19, no. 3 (1986): 421–450.Find this resource:

Barrett, Thomas Barrett, Paul-Pierre Pastoret, and William Taylor, eds. Rinderpest and Peste de Petits Ruminants. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2005.Find this resource:

Ford, John. The Role of the Trypanosomiases in African Ecology. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971.Find this resource:

Gewald, Jan-Bart. Herero Heroes: A Socio-Political History of the Herero of Namibia, 1890–1923. Oxford: James Currey, 1999.Find this resource:

Gilfoyle, Daniel. “Veterinary Research and the African Rinderpest Epizootic: the Cape Colony 1896–1898.” Journal of Southern African Studies 29, no. 1 (2003): 133–154.Find this resource:

Hødnebø, Kjell. “Rinderpest in the Sudan—Some Missing Links.” Sudanic Africa 5 (1994): 166–178.Find this resource:

Jacobs, Nancy. Environment, Power, and Injustice: A South African History. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003.Find this resource:

Kjekshus, Helge. Ecology Control and Economic Development in East African History. Berkeley: University of California, 1977.Find this resource:

Kreike, Emmanuel. Re-Creating Eden: Land Use, Environment, and Society in Southern Angola and Northern Namibia. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2004.Find this resource:

Mack, Roy. “The Great African Cattle Plague Epidemic of the 1890s.” Tropical Animal Health and Production 2, no. 4 (1970): 210–219.Find this resource:

Marquardt, Gary. “Building a Perfect Pest: Environment, People, Conflict and the Creation of a Rinderpest Epizootic in Southern Africa.” Journal of Southern African Studies 43, no. 2 (2017): 349–363.Find this resource:

Miescher, Giorgio. Namibia’s Red Line: The History of a Veterinary and Settlement Border. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.Find this resource:

Mutowo, Maurice. “Animal Diseases and Human Populations in Colonial Zimbabwe: The Rinderpest Epidemic of 1896–98.” Zambezia 28, no. 1 (2001): 1–22.Find this resource:

van Onselen, Charles. “Reactions to Rinderpest in Southern Africa 1896–97.” Journal of African History 13, no. 3 (1972): 473–488.Find this resource:

Pankhurst, Richard. “The Great Ethiopian Famine of 1888–1892: A New Assessment.” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 21 (1966): 95–124, 271–294.Find this resource:

Phoofolo, Pule. “Epidemics and Revolutions: The Rinderpest Epidemic in Late Nineteenth Century Southern Africa.” Past and Present 138 (1993): 112–143.Find this resource:

Phoofolo, Pule. “Face to Face with Famine: The BaSotho and the Rinderpest, 1897–1899.” Journal of Southern African Studies 29, no. 2 (2003): 503–527.Find this resource:

Rowe, John A. “Rinderpest in the Sudan 1888–1890: The Mystery of the Missing Panzootic.” Sudanic Africa 5 (1994): 149–165.Find this resource:

Saker, Harry, and J. Aldridge. “The Origins of the Langeberg Rebellion.” Journal of African History 12, no. 2 (1971): 299–317.Find this resource:

Spinage, Clive A. Cattle Plague: A History. New York: Kluwer Academic, 2003.Find this resource:

Sunseri, Thaddeus. “The Entangled History of Sadoka (Rinderpest) and Veterinary Science in Tanzania and the Wider World, 1891–1901.” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 89, no. 1 (2015): 92–121.Find this resource:

Tiki, Waktole, and Gufu Oba. “Ciinna—the Borana Oromo Narration of the 1890s Great Rinderpest Epizootic in North Eastern Africa.” Journal of Eastern African Studies 3, no. 3 (2009): 479–508.Find this resource:

Vail, Leroy. “Ecology and History: The Example of Eastern Zambia.” Journal of Southern African Studies 3, no. 2 (1977): 129–155.Find this resource:

Waller, Richard. “Emutai: Crisis and Response in Maasailand, 1883–1902.” In The Ecology of Survival: Case Studies from Northeast African History. Edited by Douglas H. Johnson and David M. Anderson, 72–112. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1988.Find this resource:

Weiss, Holger. “‘Dying Cattle’: Some Remarks on the Impact of Cattle Epizootics in the Central Sudan during the Nineteenth Century.” African Economic History 26 (1998): 173–199.Find this resource:


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(2.) Richard A. Kock, “Rinderpest and Wildlife,” in Rinderpest and Peste de Petits Ruminants, eds. Thomas Barrett, Paul-Pierre Pastoret, and William Taylor (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2005), 143–162.

(3.) Mike Davis, Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World (London: Verso, 2002), 263–266; and Christian Wolff, Gerald Haug, Axel Timmermann et al., “Reduced Interannual Rainfall Variability in East Africa During the Last Ice Age,” Science 333 (2011): 743–747.

(4.) Sebastiano Martini, “Terzo viaggio del Cap. S. Martini allo Scioa,” Cosmos 6, no. 2 (1880), 65–76, here 73.

(5.) John A. Rowe, “Rinderpest in the Sudan 1888–1890: The Mystery of the Missing Panzootic,” Sudanic Africa 5 (1994): 149–165, here 153.

(6.) Giovanni Memmo, Ferdinando Martoglio, and Carlo Adani, “Peste Bovina,” Annali d’Igiene Sperimentale 14 (1904): 235–293, here 238.

(7.) Giuseppe Piccinini, Guerra d’Africa: Campagna del 1888, Part IV (Rome: Edoardo Perino, 1888), 107. Pankhurst relies on Enrico Cerulli, “Canti Popolari Amarici,” Rendiconti della Reale Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Ser. 5, 25 (1916): 563–658, here 565–566.

(8.) Ordinanza di Sanità Marittima No. 6, Gazzetta Ufficiale del Regno D’Italia, no. 94 (April 20, 1888), 1.

(9.) George D. Carleton, “Notes on a Part of the Somali Country,” Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland 26 (1892): 160–172, here 164.

(10.) Richard Pankhurst, “The Great Ethiopian Famine of 1888–1892: A New Assessment,” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 21 (1966): 95–124, 271–294.

(11.) Waktole Tiki and Gufu Oba, “Ciinna—the Borana Oromo Narration of the 1890s Great Rinderpest Epizootic in North Eastern Africa,” Journal of Eastern African Studies 3, no. 3 (2009): 479–508; and Philipp Paulitschke, Ethnographie Nordost Afrikas (Berlin: Dietrich Reimer, 1893), 326.

(12.) Richard Pankhurst and Douglas H. Johnson, “The Great Drought and Famine of 1888–92 in Northeast Africa,” in The Ecology of Survival: Case Studies from Northeast African History, eds. Douglas H. Johnson and David M. Anderson (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1988), 47–70, here 47.

(13.) Steven Serels, “Famines of War: The Red Sea Grain Market and Famine in Eastern Sudan, 1889–91,” Northeast African Studies 12, no. 1 (2012): 73–94.

(14.) Kjell Hødnebø, “Rinderpest in the Sudan—Some Missing Links,” Sudanic Africa 5 (1994): 166–178, here 171.

(15.) Josef Ohrwalder, Aufstand und Reich des Mahdi im Sudan und meine zehnjährige Gefangenschaft Dortselbst (Innsbruck, Austria: Carl Rauch, 1892), 271.

(16.) Alfred S. Head, “Cattle Plague in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan,” Journal of Comparative Pathology and Therapeutics 19, no. 1 (1906): 12–18.

(17.) Bundesarchiv Berlin (BAB)/R1001/6064, “Die Rinderpest Gefahr in Nordafrika,” October 6, 1900 [153–158].

(18.) Spinage, Cattle Plague, 31–32.

(19.) Georges Treille, “Note sur l’Hygiène au Sénégal,” Revue d’Hygiène et de Police Sanitaire 14 (1892): 573–596, here 575, 579–580.

(20.) “La Peste Bovine,” Bulletin du Comité de l’Afrique Française 2, no. 3 (March 1892): 18.

(21.) Parfait-Louis Monteil, De Saint-Louis à Tripoli par le Lac Tchad (Paris: Félix Alcan, 1895), 151, 176–178.

(22.) “Die Expedition v. Uechtritz,” Deutsche Kolonialzeitung 10, no. 4 (1894): 54–55; and Siegfried Passarge, Adamaua: Bericht über die Expedition des Deutschen Kamerun-Komitees in den Jahren 1893/94 (Berlin: Dietrich Reimer, 1895), 90.

(23.) Passarge, Adamaua, 168; and Katherine Homewood, Ecology of African Pastoralist Societies (Oxford: James Currey, 2008), 104–105.

(24.) Passarge, Adamaua, 516.

(25.) Holger Weiss, “‘Dying Cattle’: Some Remarks on the Impact of Cattle Epizootics in the Central Sudan during the Nineteenth Century,” African Economic History 26 (1998): 173–199.

(26.) Stephen Baier, “Trans-Saharan Trade and the Sahel: Damergu, 1870–1930,” Journal of African History 18, no. 1 (1977): 37–60.

(27.) “Trade of Tripoli with the Soudan,” The Board of Trade Journal of Tariff and Trade Notices 15, no. 88 (1893): 585–586.

(28.) Marion Johnson, “Calico Caravans: The Tripoli–Kano Trade after 1880,” Journal of African History 17, no. 1 (1976): 95–117, here 108.

(29.) Pankhurst and Johnson, “Great Drought and Famine,” 63.

(30.) BAB/R1001/6059, Anton to Caprivi, February 2, 1892.

(31.) Richard Waller, “Emutai: Crisis and Response in Maasailand 1883–1902,” in Johnson and Anderson, Ecology of Survival, 72–112.

(32.) John Lonsdale, “The Conquest State of Kenya,” in Imperialism and War: Essays on Colonial Wars in Asia and Africa, eds. Jaap A. de Moor and Henk L. Wesseling (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1989), 87–120.

(33.) Waller, “Emutai,” 82–86.

(34.) Dorothy Hodgson, Once Intrepid Warriors: Gender, Ethnicity, and the Cultural Politics of Maasai Development (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001), 29, 36–37.

(35.) Luise White, The Comforts of Home: Prostitution in Colonial Nairobi (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990), 32–34.

(36.) Thomas Spear, Mountain Farmers: Moral Economies of Land and Agricultural Development in Arusha and Meru (Oxford: James Currey, 1997), 75–77.

(37.) Carl Lent, “Die Katholische Mission am Kilimandscharo,” Deutsche Kolonialzeitung 7, no. 1 (1894): 6–8, here 8.

(38.) Oskar Baumann, “Durch Deutsch Massai-Land und zur Quelle des Kagera-Nil,” Verhandlungen der Gesellschaft für Erdkunde zu Berlin 20 (1893): 277–283, here 277.

(39.) William Littlewood, “Cattle Plague in Egypt in 1903-04-05,” Journal of Comparative Pathology and Therapeutics 18 (1905): 312–321, here 312.

(40.) Thaddeus Sunseri, “The Entangled History of Sadoka (Rinderpest) and Veterinary Science in Tanzania and the Wider World, 1891–1901,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 89, no. 1 (2015): 92–121.

(41.) Charles S. Smith, “The Anglo-German Boundary in East Equatorial Africa. Proceedings of the Boundary Commission, 1892,” The Geographical Journal 4, no. 5 (1894): 424–437, here 426.

(42.) “The Threatened Abandonment of Uganda and Its Effect upon the Slave Trade,” The Anti-Slavery Reporter, 4th Series, 12, no. 5 (September–October 1892) (Nendeln, Liechtenstein: Kraus Reprint, 1969), 268.

(43.) Markus Boller, Kaffee, Kinder, Kolonialismus: Wirtschafts- und Bevölkerungsentwicklung in Buhaya (Tansania) in der deutschen Kolonialzeit (Münster, Germany: Lit Verlag: 1994), 112.

(44.) Frederick D. Lugard, “Travels from the East Coast to Uganda, Lake Albert Edward, and Lake Albert,” Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society and Monthly Record of Geography, New Monthly Series, 14, no. 12 (December 1892): 817–841, here 832–834.

(45.) Franz Stuhlmann, Mit Emin Pascha ins Herz von Afrika (Berlin: Dietrich Reimer, 1894), 238.

(46.) Roger Botte, “Rwanda and Burundi, 1889–1930: Chronology of a Slow Assassination, Part 1,” International Journal of African Historical Studies 18, no. 1 (1985): 53–91, here 54, 73.

(47.) Pater Capus, “Eine Missionsreise nach Uha und Urundi,” Petermann’s Mitteilungen 44, no. 8 (1898): 182–185, here 182.

(48.) Bernard Lugan, “Le Commerce de Traite au Rwanda sous le Régime Allemand (1896–1916),” Canadian Journal of African Studies 11, no. 2 (1977): 235–268.

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(50.) Helge Kjekshus, Ecology Control and Economic Development in East African History (Berkeley: University of California, 1977); and John Ford, The Role of the Trypanosomiases in African Ecology (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971).

(51.) Bernhard Gissibl, The Nature of German Imperialism: Conservation and the Politics of Wildlife in Colonial East Africa (New York: Berghahn, 2016), 88–89.

(52.) Homewood, Ecology, 171.

(53.) James Giblin, “Trypanosomiasis Control in African History: An Evaded Issue?,” Journal of African History 31, no. 1 (1990): 59–80.

(54.) Ford, Role of the Trypanosomiases, 296–297.

(55.) “Ueber einen Marsch von Lindi an den Umbemkurrufluss,” Deutsches Kolonial-Blatt 7 (1896): 584.

(56.) Richard William Morison Mettam, “A Short History of Rinderpest with Special Reference to Africa,” Uganda Journal 5, no. 1 (1937): 22–26, here 23; and Leroy Vail, “Ecology and History: The Example of Eastern Zambia,” Journal of Southern African Studies 3, no. 2 (1977): 129–155, here 133.

(57.) Alfred Sharpe, “A Journey from the Shire River to Lake Mweru and the Upper Luapula,” Geographical Journal 1 (1893): 524–533, here 529–530.

(58.) Lionel Decle, Three Years in Savage Africa (New York: Mansfield, 1898), 565–567.

(59.) Sunseri, “Entangled History,” 110.

(60.) Michael Worboys, Spreading Germs: Disease Theories and Medical Practice in Britain, 1865–1900 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2000), Chapter 2; and William Beinart, The Rise of Conservation in South Africa: Settlers, Livestock, and the Environment 1770–1950 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 131–132.

(61.) Spinage, Cattle Plague, 525–526.

(62.) Frederick Courtney Selous, Sunshine and Storm in Rhodesia (London: Rowland Ward & Co., 1896), 12–13; and Terence O. Ranger, Revolt in Southern Rhodesia 1896–7 (London: Heinemann, 1967), 147.

(63.) “The Cattle Plague in South Africa,” The Times (London), May 27, 1896.

(64.) Selous, Sunshine and Storm, 68–70.

(65.) Wesley Mwatwara and Sandra Swart, “‘If Our Cattle Die, We Eat Them but these White People Bury and Burn Them!’: African Livestock Regimes, Veterinary Knowledge and the Emergence of a Colonial Order in Southern Rhodesia, c. 1860–1902,” Kronos, no. 41 (2015): 112–141, here 135.

(66.) Ranger, Revolt in Southern Rhodesia, 264.

(67.) Gary Marquardt, “Building a Perfect Pest: Environment, People, Conflict and the Creation of a Rinderpest Epizootic in Southern Africa,” Journal of Southern African Studies 43, no. 2 (2017): 349–363.

(68.) “Von der Rinderpest in Südafrika,” Kreuz Zeitung, no. 554, November 25, 1896.

(69.) BAB/R901/19341, Kaiserlich Deutsches Konsulat to Reichskanzler Hohenlohe Schillingsfürst, August 20, 1896.

(70.) Nancy Jacobs, Environment, Power, and Injustice: A South African History (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 102–104.

(71.) Roy Mack, “The Great African Cattle Plague Epidemic of the 1890s,” Tropical Animal Health and Production 2, no. 4 (1970): 210–219.

(72.) Spinage, Cattle Plague, 425–426; Daniel Gilfoyle, The Many Plagues of Beasts: Veterinary Science and Public Policy at the Cape of Good Hope, 1877–1910 (Saarbrücken, Germany: Dr. Müller Verlag, 2009), Chapter 4; and Daniel Gilfoyle, “Veterinary Research and the African Rinderpest Epizootic: The Cape Colony 1896–1898,” Journal of Southern African Studies 29, no. 1 (2003): 133–154.

(73.) Sunseri, “Entangled History,” 115.

(74.) Gilfoyle, “Veterinary Research,” 133.

(75.) Harry Saker and John Aldridge, “The Origins of the Langeberg Rebellion,” Journal of African History 12, no. 2 (1971): 299–317, here 299.

(76.) William Beinart and Colin Bundy, Hidden Struggles in Rural South Africa: Politics and Popular Movements in the Transkei and Eastern Cape, 1890–1930 (Berkeley: University of California, 1987), 46–77, here 46–47.

(77.) Charles Ballard, “The Repercussions of Rinderpest: Cattle Plague and Peasant Decline in Colonial Natal,” International Journal of African Historical Studies 19, no. 3 (1986): 421–450.

(78.) William Beinart, “Transhumance, Animal Diseases and Environment in the Cape, South Africa,” South African Historical Journal 58 (2007): 17–41, here 34.

(79.) Pule Phoofolo, “Face to Face with Famine: the BaSotho and the Rinderpest, 1897–1899,” Journal of Southern African Studies 29, no. 2 (2003): 503–527; and Pule Phoofolo, “Epidemics and Revolutions: The Rinderpest Epidemic in Late Nineteenth Century Southern Africa,” Past and Present 138 (1993): 112–143.

(80.) Pule Phoofolo, “Zafa! Kwahlwa! Kwasa!: African Responses to the Rinderpest Epizootic in the Transkeian Territories, 1897–98,” Kronos 30 (2004): 94–117.

(81.) Charles van Onselen, “Reactions to Rinderpest in Southern Africa 1896–97,” Journal of African History 13, no. 3 (1972): 473–488.

(82.) Carlos Gomes da Costa, Gaza 1897–98 (Lisbon: Magestades e Altezas, 1899), 124, 139.

(83.) Harry C. Thomson, Rhodesia and Its Government (London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1898), 29.

(84.) Neil Parsons, “Prelude to Difaqane in the Interior of Southern Africa, c. 1600– c. 1822,” in Mfecane Aftermath: Reconstructive Debates in Southern African History, ed. Carolyn Hamilton (Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press, 1995), 323–349, here 341; and Randall Packard, “‘Malaria Blocks Development Revisited’: The Role of Disease in the History of Agricultural Development in the Eastern and Northern Transvaal Lowveld, 1890–1960,” Journal of Southern African Studies 27, no. 3 (2001): 591–612, here 595–596.

(85.) Jane Carruthers, “Creating a National Park, 1910–1926,” Journal of Southern African Studies 15, no. 2 (1989): 188–216, here 197.

(86.) Vail, “Ecology and History,” 134–135.

(87.) Gwyn Campbell, “Disease, Cattle, and Slaves: The Development of Trade between Natal and Madagascar, 1875–1904,” African Economic History 19 (1990–1991): 105–133, here 119.

(88.) Paul F. Cranefield, Science and Empire: East Coast Fever in Rhodesia and the Transvaal (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 11.

(89.) Giorgio Miescher, Namibia’s Red Line: The History of a Veterinary and Settlement Border (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), Chapter 1.

(90.) William G. Clarence-Smith and Richard Moorsom, “Underdevelopment and Class Formation in Ovamboland, 1845–1915,” Journal of African History 16, no. 3 (1975): 365–381, here 375–376; and Emmanuel Kreike, Re-Creating Eden: Land Use, Environment, and Society in Southern Angola and Northern Namibia (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2004), 37–51.

(91.) Jan-Bart Gewald, Herero Heroes: A Socio-Political History of the Herero of Namibia, 1890–1923 (Oxford: James Currey, 1999), 110–140.

(92.) Spinage, Cattle Plague, 567–568.

(93.) Dinker R. Nawathe and Abubakar G. Lamorde, “Socio-economic Impact of Rinderpest in Nigeria,” Revue Scientifique et Technique (International Office of Epizootics) 3, no. 3 (1984): 575–581.

(94.) Cape Colony Department of Agriculture, Report of the Colonial Veterinary Surgeon and the Assistant Veterinary Surgeons for the Year 1896 (Cape Town: Richards & Sons, 1897); Correspondence Relating to the Outbreak of Rinderpest in South Africa in March 1896. C.8141 (London: HMSO, 1896).