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Robert Ruark's Movie Africa Adventures

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Robert Ruark's Movie Africa Adventures

This movie, Africa Adventures, made in 1954 and narrated by Robert Ruark himself, gives a picture of safari hunting in British East Africa (BEA) at the time of the Mau Mau Emergency. Ruark arrives in BEA via Cairo and Addis Ababa in an Ethiopian Airlines propeller plane. Noteworthy is the fact that a passenger departs the plane with a rifle in hand! There’s a lot to be said for a simpler time without terrorists and terrorism!

Once in Nairobi, Ruark and his wife, Virginia, meet with Harry Selby and Jack Block, the owner of Kerr & Downey, to plan their safari. At Harry Selby’s advise Andrew Holmberg was hired by Ruark to protect and maneuver the cameraman in the right positions so the best possible film could be made. Soon the party is off with a few trucks and a crew of twenty natives, heading toward the NFD. Early on it becomes obvious to the viewer that the safaris of old where long, drawn-out affairs. Ruark’s safari goes from Northern Kenya to Uganda to Tanzania and then back to Kenya, and while the film does not say how long this all took, two months is a fair estimate. Ruark and Selby look for a large tusker in the Liasames/Merille area and they succeed in finding a 110-pounder that is shot on camera. Thereafter, around Isiolo, the safari looks for a black rhino; a charge and kill are shown on camera.

The safari moves to Uganda next, but the hunters have no luck there, so it is off to Masailand where John Sutton replaces Andrew Holmberg. Here we get to see what safari life was like. We see the mobile tent safaris of old that were entirely self sufficient and even bread was baked in the bush. Virginia and Robert Ruark shoot sand grouse and then look for a large buffalo. RR brings home a whopper of no less than 49 inches in spread. Finally Selby, Sutton, and RR bait for a leopard that they manage to get. All in all, four members of the Big Five are shot on camera.

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