Historical Article

The history of veterinary medicine in Namibia

Herbert P. Schneider
Journal of the South African Veterinary Association | Vol 83, No 1 | a4 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jsava.v83i1.4 | © 2012 Herbert P. Schneider | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 February 2012 | Published: 16 May 2012

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Herbert P. Schneider, Agrivet International, Windhoek, Namibia

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Until the middle of the 19th century, very few references exist regarding the occurrence of animal diseases in Namibia. With the introduction of contagious bovine pleuropneumonia (CBPP) in 1859, this picture changed completely and livestock owners implemented various forms of disease control in an effort to contain the spread of this disease and minimise its devastating effects. After the establishment of the colonial administration in 1884, the first animal disease legislation was introduced in 1887 and the first veterinarian, Dr Wilhelm Rickmann, arrived in 1894. CBPP and the outbreak of rinderpest in 1897 necessitated a greatly expanded veterinary infrastructure and the first veterinary laboratory was erected at Gammams near Windhoek in 1897. To prevent the spread of rinderpest, a veterinary cordon line was established, which was the very beginning of the Veterinary Cordon Fence as it is known today. After the First World War, a small but dedicated corps of veterinarians again built up an efficient animal health service in the following decades, with veterinary private practice developing from the mid–1950s. The veterinary profession organised itself in 1947 in the form of a veterinary association and, in 1984, legislation was passed to regulate the veterinary profession by the establishment of the Veterinary Council of Namibia. The outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 1961 was instrumental in the creation of an effective veterinary service, meeting international veterinary standards of quality and performance which are still maintained today.


animal diseases; laboratory services; Namibia; private practice; veterinary history


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