JEG 2004

Jaarboek voor Ecologische Geschiedenis



Henny van der Windt en Henk van Zon (Guest editors)

Mensen en dieren in het verleden




Anton Ervynck en Wim Van Neer

De overexploitatie van dierlijke producten uit de vrije natuur: archeologische indicatoren voor historische fenomenen


[Overexploitation of non-domestic animal products: archaeological indicators for historical phenomena]

The analysis of animal remains recovered from archaeological excavations allows reconstructing how, through time, many animal species have been exploited by humans, and how this almost always leaded to overexploitation. Using a number of case studies, it can be demonstrated that the archaeological indicators for overexploitation are rather diverse. They can consist of the observation of diminishing population numbers of a prey species, sometimes leading to its (local) extinction. Secondly, diachronic changes in the composition of the catches can also indicate a prey species under stress of human predation. Finally, overexploitation can also induce changes in the biological characteristics of the prey.


Eddy Niesten, Jan Raymaekers en Yves Segers

Over de maakbaarheid van dieren. Veeteelt, wetenschap en vleesconsumptie in België gedurende de

negentiende en twintigste eeuw


[On the manipulation of animals: Cattle breeding, science and meat consumption in Belgium in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries]

Over the past few centuries, the character of stock farming has changed considerably, evident, for example, in its enormous expansion and rationalization. Cattle’s breeding has become by far the most important branch of production in the agricultural economy. This article will examine the evolution of animal production and the function of farm animals in the last two centuries, focusing on the three most important groups, cows, pigs and chickens. The food crises of the 1840s and the agrarian depression of the late nineteenth century seem to have been the major catalysts in the search for a more efficient and more rational system of animal production. The characteristics of farm animals are to an increasing degree geared to the changing demands of consumers, resulting in an increasing specialization in the animals. By the end of the twentieth century, the cow, a veritable all-purpose maidservant on the farm, had become a super-specialist. The pig changed from being a supplier of fat to an efficient producer of lean meat. From the 1960s, consumer demand for cheap, lean meat ensured the success of the chicken. Even at the beginning of the nineteenth century, scientists were looking for ways to control the productive capacities of animals. Government consultants, farmers’ unions, agricultural science teachers and the cattle breeders themselves also steered these developments, in pursuit of higher profits for the farmer. Consumers with their changing demands for meat also played a role. Thanks to a sharp drop in prices, meat consumption in Belgium has risen fivefold since the mid-nineteenth century. The ratio between the different types has, however, changed drastically, such that in recent decades pork and chicken have become popular. Objections to the extensive industrialization of animal production emerged fully only from the 1970s. It became an important issue for most consumers and cattle owners during the wave of epidemics and scandals in the 1980s and 1990s. During this time as well far more legislative attention was paid to the well-being of farm animals


Cor B.A. Smit

Geen dierenbeulen. Omgang met slachtdieren in het Openbaar Slachthuis Leiden


[No tormentors of animals. The treatment of slaughter-animals in the Leiden Council Slaughterhouse]

The role of council slaughterhouses regarding the treatment of (slaughter) animals is researched in this case-study of the Leiden Council Slaughterhouse (OSL). Reduction of cruelty to animals turns out to be an important goal. The local council unanimously supported the more humane approach proposed by involved protectors of animals. The OSL also stimulated a better treatment of animals outside the abattoir. At the same time it concealed this rude and bloody business from civilized society. Corporate culture was marked by a professional attitude regarding the killing of the animals, combined with an ethic that prohibited cruel behavior towards animals. The people concerned strongly oppose images depicting them as tormentors of animals. To them, the Islamic ritual slaughter practice crossed the line. After a while this practice too was humanized.


Henny J. van der Windt en Edo Knegtering

Inheemse wilde diersoorten in de Nederlandse wetgeving tussen 1860 en 1995, bestrijding, benutting

of bescherming?


[Indigenous species in Dutch legislation between 1860 and 1995, control, use or protection?]

We considered the development of species-specific legislation in the Netherlands on wild animals over the period 1860-1995. We focus on the importance of aesthetical perspectives, notably the appreciation of species characteristics as embodied in taxa (species groups), and ethical perspectives for this legislation. We also assessed the relative involvement of different animal groups in species specific legislation. Three objectives were defined namely ‘control’ , ‘use’, and ‘protection’ , based on purposes and potential levels of legally allowable taking. Over time, the number of species under legislation increased, mainly caused by the increase of numbers subject to ‘protection’. Important changes in legitimating took place around 1880, 1915, 1970, and 1995. The taxa included birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fishes, bivalves, gastropods, cephalopods, insects, crustaceans, and echinoderms. Persistent differences were apparent in the relative involvement of taxa in the objectives as well as in the relative extent to which these animal groups were affected by long term trends in numbers of species subject to the objectives. Clearly, the legislator put most attention to birds, and vertebrates in general, and less to insects, absolutely and relatively. Many animal groups were not part of legislation at all. During the period of study, arguments of use have gradually been replaced by arguments regarding ‘intrinsic value’ of individuals, species and ecosystems. It is concluded that the increase of the number of species under legislation can be seen as an expansion of the moral community: the change of ethical perspectives during the last two centuries caused a higher moral standard for wild animals. Besides, a species’ legal status over time was most probably also influenced by the appreciation of species characteristics, such as taxon-specific characteristics and body size. Knowledge seems to play a significant but not a major role.


Eugénie C. de Bordes

Dierproeven, een maatschappelijke kwestie binnen de grenzen van de wet


[Animal experiments: a social issue within legal bounds]

As soon as animal experimentation became a common feature of scientific research, social resistance was organised. The history of animal experiments, their legitimating and the views of the opponents are briefly touched upon. The use of lab animals has been legally regulated in the Netherlands since 1977. The number of experiments has been reduced and the welfare of the animals has improved. Current legislation is partly based on the concept of the ‘intrinsic value’ of animals. However, the legal obligation to keep the actual assessment of specific experiments confidentialis preventing the participation of concerned citizens and thereby frustrating the potential success of a policy founded on the advanced ethical concept of intrinsic value.


Simon Fuks m.m.v. Henny J. van der Windt

De IJslandse giervalk, een koninklijke vogel


[The Icelandic gyrfalcon, a royal bird]

Falconry has always been a hunting technique of the ruling class. It gave the falconer great respect and trained falcons were a precious gift. The catching, training and lucrative trade were strictly limited and the Dutch falconers were well known for their craftsmanship in training the birds. The white Icelandic gyrfalcon was the most valuable and looked for. Their trade was controlled by the Kingdom of Denmark during the 17th and 18th century. After the disappearing of the ancient Hawking Clubs in England, Holland and France, the number of professional falconers decreased. The Icelandic gyrfalcons are protected today.