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    The entangled relations of humans and Nile crocodiles in Africa, c.1840-1992

    Pooley, Simon (2016) The entangled relations of humans and Nile crocodiles in Africa, c.1840-1992. Environment & History 33 (2), pp. 421-454. ISSN 0967-3407.

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    Abstract

    The nature of European explorers’ and hunters’ perceptions of the wildlife they encountered during their travels, and how this shaped their responses to it, has been surprisingly little studied. This may in part be because of the wealth of primary material and the dearth of secondary sources. Animal studies has come of age in recent decades, with a focus on how humans have conceptualised and related to animals, but much of this new field concerns domesticated or captive animals and has tended towards philosophical, political and theoretical approaches. Yet there is much to be gained from a historical exploration of the abundant sources on Europeans’ encounter with wildlife, notably during the height of colonial exploration and adventuring in Africa. This review focuses on the Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) in Africa. Crocodiles had a major impact on European travellers, elicited extreme reactions and reveal an irrational difference in attitudes to large mammalian predators, as opposed to reptilian. The oft-repeated statement that Nile crocodiles kill more humans and are more hated than any other predator (or even, all other predators) in Africa is still current. The expansion of human settlement and activities into the habitats of crocodiles and increasing demands on water supplies is resulting in escalating conflicts and some experts regard crocodiles as a ‘growing threat to rural livelihoods and development’. If these important apex predators of the continent’s waterways are to be conserved, then a good place to start seems to be with an exploration of the long history of interactions with them that have shaped expert and public perceptions of crocodile.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted following peer review.
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Africa, wildlife, colonial exploration, hunting, natural history, human animal conflict
    School: Birkbeck Schools and Departments > School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > Department of Geography
    Depositing User: Dr Simon Pooley
    Date Deposited: 31 Aug 2016 12:26
    Last Modified: 31 Aug 2016 12:26
    URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/15883

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