This paper emanates from a project of the South African Veterinary Association to record the veterinary history of South Africa. Choosing an era where there was no written history, that of 1850 back to prehistory, creates unique challenges. No single methodology can be used. Archaeology, including archaeozoology and rock art provide some clues. Anthropology, describing the peoples of the subcontinent and how they have related to their animals, is another source. The vernacular names of plants provide some clues. Oral history is touched on before proceeding to written and pictorial history. The problems associated with each are described.
The first part will provide some findings, and the shortcomings of the discipline and its techniques. To find a way to organise the information for a paper such as this has proved to be difficult. There are many dimensions to consider. We will start with some considerations around the source disciplines and then move over to findings on the animals involved, narrowing it down to aspects such as animal management and treatment. The paper will conclude with problems concerning the availability of resources.