Ruling Nature, Controlling People
Nature Conservation, Development and War in North-Eastern Namibia since the 1920s
Basel Namibia Studies Series 19, August 2018
Recent nature conservation initiatives in Southern Africa such as communal conservancies and
peace parks are often embedded in narratives of economic development and ecological research.
They are also increasingly marked by militarisation and violence. In Ruling Nature, Controlling
People, Luregn Lenggenhager shows that these features were also characteristic of South African
rule over the Caprivi Strip region in North-Eastern Namibia, especially in the fields of forestry, fisheries
and, ultimately, wildlife conservation. In the process, the increasingly internationalised war in
the region from the late 1960s until Namibia’s independence in 1990 became intricately interlinked
with contemporary nature conservation, ecology and economic development projects.
By retracing such interdependencies, Lenggenhager provides a novel perspective from which to
examine the history of a region which has until now barely entered the focus of historical research.
He thereby highlights the enduring relevance of the supposedly peripheral Caprivi and its military,
scientific and environmental histories for efforts to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in
which apartheid South Africa exerted state power.