OBITUARIES

The death has been announced of two well known persons who have had a big impact on Tanzania. They are Sir Michael Wood and Dr. Bernhard Grzimek.

Dr. Michael Wood was for several years a farmer at Ol Molog in Tanzania but made his name by starting the first ‘flying doctor’ service in East Africa. In order to combine the two tasks he is understood to have flown in and out of his farm nearly 800 times before he had to give it up after the Arusha Declaration.

Dr. Grzimek died in Frankfurt while watching tigers train at a circus. He became internationally famous because of the assistance he gave in establishing Tanzania’s Serengeti and Ngorongoro game sanctuaries and in spreading news about them around the world.

He was quoted as saying on one occasion, “Men fight and die to change borders and convert others to their way of life. My son and I must surely be right to work and risk our lives to help save the Serengeti”

They first came to Tanzania in 1957 and after learning to fly, carried out the first aerial survey of animals in the Serengeti. They counted a total of 366,980 large animals.

Dr. Grzimek campaigned ceaselessly for the preservation of wildlife. He once wrote “Men are easily inspired by human ideas but they forget them again just as quickly. Only nature is eternal unless we senselessly destroy it. In fifty years time nobody will be interested in the results of conferences which fill today’s headlines. But when, fifty years from now, a lion walks into the red dawn and roars resoundingly, it will mean something to people and quicken their hearts whether they are Bolsheviks or democrats, or whether they speak English, German, Russian or Swahili. They will stand in quiet awe as, for the first time in their lives, they watch twenty thousand zebras wander across the endless plains.”

Dr. Grzimek’s ashes were buried on May 26th in Ngorongoro crater next to the grave of his son Michael. Michael had died thirty years earlier while filming ‘Ngorongoro Shall Never Die’. Park rangers fired a gun salute at the burial ceremony. The Government has agreed to build a ‘Bernhard Grzimek Memorial Centre’ at Seronera in his honour.

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