Kalahari and Transvaal Tswana practised a mixed economy of herding, agriculture, and hunting for meat (and for skins). While faunal remains reflect higher percentage of domestic stock than of wild animals, such proportions alone do not reflect huntings importance. Hunters probably slaughtered animals in the veld and dried the meat in strips for transport home with the skins. Moreover, hunting-related vocabulary and numerous references to wildlife trophies as associated with status show that hunting was integral to Tswana life. Hunting and wildlife utilisation changed after firearms, horses, and ivory trading were introduced. Non-consumption and trade assumed greater importance. Hunters killed wild animals to obtain trading trophies and to remove predators from expanding grazing and settlement areas. In the Transvaal, hunting largely disappeared, as Tswana were dispossessed by white settlers involved in commercial cattle and cash crop farming, and as elephants retreated north of the Limpopo River. To the west, however, game remained abundant and many observers in the Kalahari noted a wide variety of Tswana hunting practices, some likely predating the nineteenth century. Some of these hunting practices yielded substantial returns of ivory, skins, ostrich feathers, and other products which were fed into a wide-ranging trade throughout southern Africa.
Author: Fred Morton & Robert Hitchcock
South African Historical Journal, 2013