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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'Patriotic pigeons': pigeon politics and military service in war-time South Africa, c. 1899-1945
Author:Snyders, HendrikISNI
Periodical:African Research and Documentation (ISSN 0305-862X)
Geographic term:South Africa
intelligence services
Abstract:This article traces the role of pigeons throughout the 1899-1902 South African War (also called Second Boer War, or Anglo-Boer War) up to the end of the Second World War (1939-1945). It starts with investigating the existence and influence of an empire-wide 'military pigeon consciousness.' It is shown that war pigeons had a more than passing role in South Africa's war defenses and also contributed fundamentally to the shaping of the country's history. The Dickin Medal, also known as the 'Victoria Cross for Animals,' was awarded to 32 pigeons under the control of the Armed Forces or the British Imperial Army. The war gave an unprecedented opportunity to pigeon fanciers specifically and animal welfare activists in general to elevate their activities from being low-keyed, localized fringe activities with no national significance to something of a higher value. Lobbying campaigns also contributed to a suite of new legislation including measures dealing with the protection of performing animals. Examples of such legislation are the Homing Pigeons Protection Act of 1907 and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1914. In 1946, the era of the military pigeon came to an end. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]