1969 Tanzania Safari

Discussion in 'Articles' started by tim416, May 19, 2014.

  1. tim416

    tim416 AH Enthusiast

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    The pictures below are from a good friend of mine's Father. He went for a month and a half safari in Tanzania's Ruaha National Park area in 1969. He took elephant, sable, kudu, lion, buffalo, zebra, and several other species. He is now eighty-nine years old. He remembers his PH as being a Keith Cormac. He is sending additional photos but thought I might post these as I received them today. If anyone ia familiar with the area he hunted or has heard of Keith Cormac any info would be appreciated.

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  2. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH Ambassador

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    Can't help you with anymore info, but those pics are great! Love that buff.
     

  3. AfricaHunting.com

    AfricaHunting.com FOUNDER AH Ambassador

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    Fantastic, thanks for sharing! I looked a bit but could not find anything on Keith Cormac...
     

  4. Wheels

    Wheels AH Legend

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    Tim, I know you have seen this already but since you posted it here I thought I would repost with a couple of changes.

    Keith Cormac was based out of Chimala. He lived about a mile from me when I was a kid. The hunt could have taken place anywhere but in 1969, most of his hunting took place on the Usangu Flats (same place my avatar is from) and the area that would touch the southeast and southwest corners of the Ruaha NP. He used to hunt in the area that would become the NP, but if memory serves me correct Ruaha became a NP in 1967. (George Rushby and Eric Balson were the local game wardens and they were both instrumental in the establishment of the Ruaha as a NP)

    Keith's father was Major Cormac who owned a couple of farms in the area and the Chimala Hotel located on the Great North Road. (where Chimala Mission Hospital is now) He sold the hotel around 1962 and moved back to Scotland with his wife and daughter. Keith stayed around.

    Keith was a PH and in his off time he would hunt crocs. Skins were at a premium in those days. His boat was an eighteen inch pipe split into with caps wielded on the ends. (probably 15 feet long) He had outriggers (so hippos wouldn't turn it over) attached to 55 gallon drums which also were utilized as storage. He would pole up to spotlighted crocs at night and shoot them. Then dive into the water and tie a rope off to a foot before they sank. He offered to take me with him multiple times, and I certainly wanted to go. Mom was afraid of the crocs and hippos. My Dad knew Keith wouldn't let crocs and hippos get to me. He was concerned about bilharzia. Unfortunately I never got to go.

    Keith later had a farm in Masailand south of Arusha. I'm not sure when he moved from the Chimala area as we left in 1970. I heard from a mutual friend that he passed away around 2004.

    Thanks for posting the photos. I would certainly like to see more if you get them.

    Did your friends dad fly into Mbeya?

    Your friends dad probably drove within 200 yards of our house if he went by Keith's house on the trip.

    I have an interest in one of the farms that Keith's dad owned. Small world isn't it?

    Hope this helps
     
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  5. Foxi

    Foxi AH Fanatic

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    Super.Especially the buff, make dreams go round :).
    Just a generation ago and we think "good old times".An older (elder ?) hunter told me,when he was 1955,the first time in Africa(CAR),on his normal big game license was quoted : 4 Elephants and 20 Buffalos................
    Carpe diem
    Foxi
    @Wheels: wonderful information.I'm always fascinated on livestories .Thank you.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2014

  6. bluey

    bluey AH Legend

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    good stuff , nothing like a trip down memory lane
    wow wheels you've been around ,mate .
     

  7. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    Interesting stuff Wheel's thanks for sharing.
     

  8. tim416

    tim416 AH Enthusiast

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    Wheels,
    I will get more info on where he flew into. He indicated he flew into Arusha and then into a smaller strip but could not remember the name. I will run the name Mbeya past him to see if it rings a bell. He remembers George, (the ranger) as working as an apprentice on the trip. The gentleman in the pictures is now eighty-nine years old and the safari was forty-five years ago.
    Unbelievably small world! Thanks so much for sharing the info. I will post more details and photos as I receive them
     

  9. Pawprint Safaris

    Pawprint Safaris SPONSOR Since 2014 AH Legend

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  10. christophe morio

    christophe morio SPONSOR Since 2010 AH Fanatic

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  11. Wheels

    Wheels AH Legend

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    Tim,

    In those days it was not uncommon for hunters to hunt multiple places in Tanzania. The area around Arusha has Whitebeard Wildebeest, Grants/Roberts/Thompson Gazelle, Gernuk, lesser kudu, etc. that aren't found in the Ruaha area.

    The Mbeya airstrip was grass back then but it would handle the East African Airways DC3's.

    The George that your friends father remembers would not have been George Rushby. Rushby would have moved to SA by then, and possibly have died. Below are a couple of books about Rushby. Rushby also killed the maneaters of Njombe (1500 people killed) right after WWII. He is mentioned in one or two of Capsticks books. He was also a big time ivory hunter prior to becoming a game warden.

    No More the Tusker by GG Rushby published by WH Allen, London 1965
    The Hunter is Death by TV Bulpin published by Nelson, Cape Town 1962

    Eric Balson would have been the game warden in Mbeya at the time your friend hunted. Your friend may have met him if he went through Mbeya. I would be surprised if Balson didn't stop by the camp at sometime during the safari. Bwana Balson wrote two books published by Safari Press:

    On Safari with Bwana Game
    More Safaris with Bwana Game

    If your friend met Balson he might want to read his books. For awhile Balson guided the visiting VIP's of Tanzania including Prince Bernard of the Netherlands and Marshall Tito of Yugoslavia. The first book tells how the second largest elephant (by ivory) was taken.

    If you can, ask your friends father how old Keith Cormac would have been. I would guess Keith was born in the early 30's but I may be wrong. As a kid I don't know if I could judge adults ages very well.

    Also ask your friend if he has photos of Keith. I don't have any. I am not sure if I could even tell you what he looked like if you showed me a photo now.

    I am certainly looking forward to more photos and a narrative if he can provide it.


    For the rest of you that have commented on my story about Keith Cormac, thanks. I am blessed to have briefly lived in "the good old days".

    All the best.
     
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  12. tim416

    tim416 AH Enthusiast

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    Here are some more photos sent today. Wheels, Thank you so much for the wealth of information you have provided. It means a lot to the family to be able to bring to life some old memories for their father.

    rhi_zps69bfeb7f.jpg zeb_zpsbd36bba6.jpg cmp_zps7170a809.jpg
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 20, 2014
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  13. Velo Dog

    Velo Dog SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Excellent ! (understatement).
     

  14. K-man

    K-man AH Elite

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    Wow! It is so important to collect and record these great family stories and histories. It is really cool to find peers from the past as well. If I never get anything else from this site I will still call it worthwhile. Thanks to all for the post and pictures.
     
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  15. Wheels

    Wheels AH Legend

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    Thanks for sharing the new photos.

    Regarding all the Pics:

    Most of these photos would coincide with topography and vegetation around the Usangu and the SE and SW parts of the Ruaha NP. That's not to say they had to be taken there. Cormac may have taken your friend to hunt Rungwa, etc. and still have been next to the Ruaha NP.

    I am pretty sure the rhino was not taken south of the Ruaha NP. I don't remember ever seeing any in the area and don't think the area was part of their normal distribution. You may ask your friend if he hunted any around Arusha or northern Tanzania where rhino were more prevalent.

    Seeing the photo of the Zebra brings back memories. The military came into the Usangu around 1967 and shot hundreds of zebra. (not sure why, possibly target practice) There were a number of three legged zebra running around for a couple of years.

    In the camp photo there is a tree with vines growing around it. That is a strangler fig. The vines will grow up a tree and slowly start choking it. The vines use the host tree as a support to grow. In time the vines become structurally sound and the host tree dies and rots away. The strangler fig can end up five plus feet in diameter and be very tall.

    All the best.
     
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  16. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH Ambassador

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    Okay Wheels, I knew you had spent a fair amount of time in Africa, but did not realize just how much experience you had. I hope you'll be at DSC again, I want to hear some more stories!
     

  17. Wheels

    Wheels AH Legend

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    Thanks Phil,

    Not sure how much "experience" I have. This just happens to be a topic I know a little bit about.

    I will be at DSC this year if you coordinate another great AH dinner! Always enjoy swapping tall tales.

    All the best.
     
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  18. tim416

    tim416 AH Enthusiast

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    Wheels,
    I am with Phil. Would love to hear you share stories from "back in the day".
    I spoke with the gentleman that is represented in the pictures today. He indicated that he took
    the rhino along with a long list of other species in the same area. All of his taxidermy work was done by Rowland Ward
    and is still in great shape. His son, (my neighbor) has the lion rug, elephant tusks, buffalo and several other species so I can vouch
    for their condition. His dad is a little nervous about this internet thing and does not want his name out there.
    He is, none the less, excited to hear that someone actually knew his PH and is familiar with the area on which he hunted.
    He is putting together a complete list of all trophies taken on this hunt. I was surprised to hear him include Roan.
    You guys have sparked life of an eighty-nine year old gentleman and are allowing him the opportunity to dig up
    memories from long ago.
    Thank you for all the feedback. I am getting more joy from this posting than anything I have done for a long time.
     

  19. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH Ambassador

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    Maybe you can talk this 89 year young gentleman into writing down some of those stories to share here on AH?
     

  20. Wheels

    Wheels AH Legend

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    Tim,

    I am surprised about the rhino. Just shows how ignorant I am. Realize what I am telling you are through the eyes of a kid. My perceptions might be different than if I had been an adult at the time.

    I understand your friends reluctance to have his name out there. Even though a number of people on this forum know me and I don't mind most of the regulars knowing who I am, I am somewhat reluctant to have my name out there as well. Because of that I won't be completely specific on details.

    I don't know if my experience is any different than others that lived in rural Tanzania in the late 1960's but I will try to share some experiences. We lived on apx. 1000 acres at the foot of the rift valley. Vervet monkeys, baboons, dik dik, duiker, bushbuck, kudu, bushpig, jackal, hyena, leopard lived on the farm. Reedbuck, impala were there periodically. Hippo and elephant would come in when the crops were in season. Lions would come by every 3-4 weeks. Klipspringer and colobus monkey were a mile or two away up the gorge. Right out of Chimala the Usangu Flats started. All the animals that lived on the farm were on the Usangu plus impala, topi, zebra, hartebeest, buffalo, sable, roan, ostrich, giraffe, warthog, eland, cheetah, wild dog, crocs, oribi and I guess now rhino lived on the flats. I may be missing some animals.

    My parents were meat hunters. If I remember correct there were around 110 animals on a license. Many of the animals didn't live in our area though. My parents probably shot 25-40 animals per year for our needs and the workers needs.

    A large portion of the Usangu was a swamp in the rainy season with no trees around. In the dry season it was miles of grass. The buffalo herds were around 100-300 animals but occasionally they would join up and you would see 500, maybe as high as 1000 in a herd.

    There was a pan near Ruaha NP that was about 2 miles x 3/4 miles. One day from the top of the Landrover we saw apx. 300 elephant spread across the pan. We watched them for a couple of hours. A pretty neat sight.

    Once while driving through scattered woods we came upon what I can only describe as a migration of a mixed herd of galloping zebra and topi. The herd was as dense as 10-15 abreast to as few as 10 animals in 100 yards. The herd ran past us for 25 minutes. We drove up to 20 yards of the herd and the line started bowing outward. We continued forward 30 yards and the herd broke and they started going across behind us. We never saw the front of the herd so don't know how long the line really was. How many animals were there? It was still an amazing sight.

    A friend told me a story that took place around 1960. He was driving from Chimala to hunt in what is now the Ruaha NP. Maybe 75 miles. After awhile he realized he had never been out of sight of wild animals so he started paying close attention. He was never out of sight of a wild animal for the entire trip.

    We traveled a lot and I was in a number of national parks back then. Most of them pretty good. Some like Mikumi, Tsavo, Wankie were big let downs compared to the Usangu which was an open hunting area. I have never seen the Serengeti or Masai Mara during the migration but the only place to me that was better than the Usangu was Ngoro Ngoro Crater. (This includes Kruger)

    The Usangu was way off the popular hunting destination charts back when your friends dad hunted there. It wasn't and still isn't the easiest place to get to. If your friends father did hunt the Usangu, which I presume he did since that is where Keith usually hunted, he chose a great place and time to hunt there with a great PH. Do you know how he found out about Keith Cormac and how he chose to hunt with him?

    When we lived there the Usangu had a few decent sized herds of cattle grazing on it. From the time we left Chimala in 1970 until around 2006 evidently those herds grew in great numbers. Around 2006 the government drove the pastoralists off the Usangu and made it a game reserve. Depending on who you talk to 500,000 to 2,500,000 cattle were removed. The southern part of the Usangu (near the Great North Road) stretching out 15-20 miles is now a patchwork of rice projects. Needless to say the wildlife suffered and were pushed north due to the farms and cattle. It is my understanding that the wildlife has and are continuing to move back into the Usangu. It is also my understanding that you can't hunt there now.

    Hope your friend enjoys the info. Any more information and photos you can provide would be great.

    All the best.
     
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