Hugo van Lawick

Born 10 April 1937

born Soerabata, Indonesia

Name ID 642

See also

van Lawick, Hugo Among Predators and Prey
Extract Date: 1960's


Not long afterwards we reached two small houses, one of which had belonged to the film star, Hardy Kruger, for whom Sirili had worked many years ago. It [Oldonyorok] is now inhabited by my friends Bert and Stephanie von Mutius and their small son, Daniel. Apart from the two houses and the little Momella Lodge, in the distance, no other buildings were visible. Instead we had a view over a small open plain on which buffaloes grazed, and which was surrounded by forest. Beyond that we could see Mount Kilimanjaro, some ninety kilometres away, but looking much closer. Just behind us, the snow on the peak of Mount Meru was melting in the sun.

Extract ID: 1091

See also

Guardian (UK)
Extract Author: Robin McKie
Extract Date: 1999 September 26

Jane's fighting chimps

Her studies have redefined mankind's image of itself and our relationship to the ape. She is in an academic class of her own, yet never took a degree. Now her new book reveals how she fell in love... with chimpanzees

It was October 1960, and the rainy season had come to Gombe, in Tanzania, covering the reserve in a soft, green carpet of new grass. A slight, blonde young woman was tramping through the forest. She had been searching - in vain - for chimpanzees to study until she encountered a single male squatting beside the red mound of a termite nest. The young primatologist watched carefully until, in front of her astonished eyes, the chimp - christened David Greybeard because of his white-tufted chin - took a twig, bent it, shaped it, and then carefully stuck it into the nest from which he began to spoon termites into his mouth.

It was one of the defining moments of modern science. Jane Goodall had observed a creature, other than man, in the act not just of using tools, but of making one. 'It was hard for me to believe,' she recalls in her autobiography, Reason for Hope, which is to be published by Warner Books next week. 'It had long been thought that we were the only creatures on Earth that used and made tools.' Now mankind knew differently.

Goodall telegrammed her boss, the renowned fossil-hunter Louis Leakey (father of Richard), with the news. He responded, in triumph: 'We must now redefine man, redefine tools, or accept chimpanzees as humans.' In fact, Goodall had done all three, though it is really the first on this list that she will always be remembered for. Thanks to her endeavours, science has had to completely reappraise our ideas about human nature - 'one of the great achievements of twentieth-century scholarship', as Stephen Jay Gould puts it. The accomplishment is all the more remarkable because it is the handiwork of a person who lacked any academic training, who had grown up in middle-class gentility in the Thirties when women were expected to be wives and little else, and who was armed only with a fierce certainty that she wanted to study animals.

Nonetheless, over the past four decades, Goodall - who was 65 this year - has produced a body of work that has permanently changed our self-image. Every piece of behaviour thought to be the exclusive, exalted prerogative of humans has since been observed by Goodall in the chimpanzee: tool-making, cannibalism, imperialism, political chicanery, adolescence, strong mother-child bonding and even genocide. Good and evil are not aspects of the soul, but are bits of behavioural baggage that we have carried with us for the past five million years, back to the days when we shared a common, ape-like ancestor with the chimpanzee.

Even more remarkable is the fact that these revelations were made in extraordinarily primitive conditions. Just to follow her 'prey', Goodall has had to scrabble over forbidding terrain, fight off tsetse flies, and survive the occasional enraged attentions of top-ranking male chimps. One of her students was killed in a cliff fall, and another four were kidnapped - though later released - by local gunmen. Only an individual driven by blind ambition, perhaps to exorcise the ghosts of childhood insecurities, would surely endure such privations?

Yet Goodall's past seems to have blissfully happy, having been spent at Birches, a large, nineteenth-century house in Bournemouth, the household firstly being ruled by her maternal grandmother, and then her mother, Vanne - the only note of discord being the latter's divorce from Goodall's father, a man she had hardly seen during the war years. She was clearly an intelligent girl, and did well at school, but found university fees prohibitive. So Goodall went to London where she trained as a secretary, read poetry and took classes in theosophy. (Her writing still has an intense, spiritual and religious leaning.) Then an invitation to visit an old friend in Kenya provided a crucial catalyst.

In Nairobi, she met Louis Leakey, the scientist whose palaeontological discoveries had finally proved mankind's roots were African, not Asian, as had previously been supposed. Leakey was now looking for a woman to study chimpanzees in the wild and to find evidence of their close ancestry to humanity. Goodall fitted his requirements precisely. As a woman, she was blessed, he believed, with a more empathetic nature than a man, and would be more acceptable to wild chimpanzees. In addition, she perfectly fitted another requirement: she came 'with a mind uncluttered and unbiased by theory', as Goodall states herself.

But there was more, as Goodall most certainly does not state. The sight of this lithe, pretty, hazel-eyed, 23-year-old stirred the Leakey loins in no uncertain manner, and the old rou" - although married with three children - bombarded the young Goodall with protestations of his love. She was horrified, rejected all his advances and has since made little mention of them. By contrast, Virginia Morell's official biography of the Leakey clan makes much of the relationship and even notes that Louis - having failed with the daughter - then turned his attention's Goodall's mother, staying with her when he was in England and accompanying her to concerts. This liaison led to the rumour that still has wide currency in the world of fossil science: that Jane was really Leakey's daughter, and is therefore the half-sister of Richard Leakey. It's not true, but it does show that scientists at least enjoy as good a gossip as the rest of us.

Not long after she set up her research camp at Gombe, Goodall was visited by a young National Geographic photographer Hugo van Lawick. They fell in love and married in 1964, producing their son, Hugo, in 1967. van Lawick came from old European aristocratic lineage and the marriage was probably doomed from the start. Birute Galdikas, another of Leakey's monkey ladies (she lived with and studied orang-utans in Borneo) recalls visiting the Goodalls and finding 'the baron' to be 'distant, aloof and pre-occupied', although always 'poised and elegant' like a true aristocrat. By contrast, Goodall would wear a parka jacket to official functions, and put Grub (as Hugo junior has always been known) and chimpanzees before all else. (Galdikas also recalls that Goodall told her she had learned a lot about child-raising from mother chimpanzees, who do not punish errant offspring, but merely try to distract them.) Goodall eventually divorced van Lawick and remarried, to Derek Bryceson, a former fighter pilot and by then director of Tanzania's national parks. A calm, good-humoured and rather glamorous figure, he was clearly the love of Goodall's life, and his painful death in 1978 - from cancer - left her devastated.

It was during all these tribulations that Goodall made her great observations of chimpanzee behaviour, though her work was not without criticism: the way she christened each of her primate subjects - Greybeard, Flo, Passion, Figan, Goliath and, of course, Leakey - enraged scientific purists who accused Goodall of the heinous crime of anthropomorphism. In other words, in giving chimps human names, she was by implication also giving them human attributes.

In fact, her observations revealed key differences, as well as similarities, between ourselves and chimps. The latter do not form strong male-female pair bonds like men and women, for example. Nevertheless, Goodall's books, In the Shadow of Man and Through a Window, paint vivid, poignant portraits of creatures that are tantalisingly close to ourselves but, lacking the human attribute of complex language, are forever 'trapped within themselves' and who are now at the mercy of modern man. Human predations - in particularly the environmental devastation we cause through the spread of farming and which so seriously threatens the last few of enclaves of chimpanzees in the world - are now Goodall's prime concern, and her work is dedicated to reversing this damage and in trying to protect the creatures with whom her name is irrevocably linked.

They are, after all, our closest kin, a relationship that we now understand in a way that was never dreamt of before the arrival of Jane Goodall.

Jane Goodall

Born: 3 April 1934, London

Family: Married (twice): to Hugo van Lawick (one son, Hugo), and Derek Bryceson

Subject: Chimpanzees (aka Pantroglodytes schweinfurthii)

Hon degree: Ethology (Cambridge)

Books: Reason for Hope: A Spritiual Journey (with Phillip Berman), Through a Window, Chimpanzees of Gombe

Favourite read: Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan books

Extract ID: 1479

See also

1970 Publishes: van Lawick, Hugo; Goodall, Jane Innocent Killers

Extract ID: 3085

See also

Source Unknown

The camp, set up in 1971 in the wildlife-rich lands

The camp, set up in 1971 in the wildlife-rich lands around Tanzania's Lake Ndutu, was a particularly important training ground for young filmmakers.

Extract ID: 1066

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1973 Publishes: van Lawick, Hugo Solo: The Story of an African Wild Dog

Extract ID: 3084

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1977 Publishes: van Lawick, Hugo Savage Paradise

Extract ID: 1067

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1981 Publishes: Matthiessen, Peter and van Lawick, Hugo Sand Rivers

Extract ID: 1068

See also

Ziesler, Gunter and Hofer, Angelika Safari: the East African Diaries of a Wildlife Photographer
Extract Author: Nigel Sitwell
Page Number: 10


There was another thing that made him less eager to work in Africa than in some other places he had been to: There was another German photographer, Reinhard Kurkel (sic), who had spent ten years in Kenya and Tanzania. 'There were Alan Root, the Bartletts, Hugo van Larwick, and others - and they had taken some of their best pictures when it was rather easier than it is now.'

Extract ID: 3133

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1984 Publishes: Huxley, Elspeth and van Lawick, Hugo Last Days in Eden

Extract ID: 3001

See also

1986 Publishes: van Lawick, Hugo Among Predators and Prey

Extract ID: 1069

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1993 Publishes: van Lawick, Hugo Cheetahs - The Blood Brothers

Extract ID: 3252

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1993 Publishes: van Lawick, Hugo Wild Dogs of Africa

Extract ID: 3253

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1996 Publishes: van Lawick, Hugo Leopards Son

Extract ID: 3351

See also

Africa Online
Extract Date: 1996

'Leopard Son' film launched

" 1996, Features Africa Network All rights reserved Distributed by Africa Online, Inc.

President Benjamin Mkapa launched a film entitled 'The Leopard Son at the Sheraton Hotel yesterday.

The film which was shot in Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Conservation area, was produced by Hugo van Lawick, who has lived and worked among wild animals for more than 30 years, sources from the Nature Conservation Film (NCF) said.

The launching was organized by the NCF in collaboration with the Tanzania Tourist Board. The NCF sources said the 93-minute film is the true story of the birth, growth and coming of age of a leopard in Africa's Serengeti Plains.

'Beautifully filmed by acclaimed naturalist Hugo van Lawick it is the tale of how a child learns the lessons of life at his mother's side, and at the same time, how he finds his place in the world,' the sources explained.

The sources noted that the story of 'The Leopard Son' is aimed at promoting world awareness on the conservation of Serengeti National Park.

Extract ID: 522

external link

See also

van Lawick, Hugo Leopards Son

Leopards Son

Internet Movie Database

Tagline: To earn his place in the world... First, he must survive.

User Rating: 7.8/10 (39 votes)

Credited cast overview:

John Gielgud .... Narrator

Country: USA

Language: English

Color: Color

Sound Mix: Dolby Digital

Certification: USA:G

Extract ID: 3352

external link

See also

Ball, Jacqueline A. The Leopard Son A True Story

The Leopard Son A True Story

Jacqueline A. Ball, Kit Carlson - Mc Graw Hill $14.95

Now families can relive the excitement of The Leopard Son, the Discovery Channel's first feature-length film, in a magnificent full-color storybook that captures both the visual splendor and stark reality of this moving documentary. The Leopard Son brilliantly chronicles a leopard cub's journey into young adulthood and his painful coming-of-age in the beautiful but brutal Serengeti. Full-color photos.

Extract ID: 521

external link

See also

van Lawick, Hugo Leopards Son
Extract Author: James Berardinelli
Extract Date: 1996

The Leopard Son: A Film Review

The Leopard Son

A Film Review by James Berardinelli


United States, 1996

U.S. Release Date: 9/27/96 (limited)

Running Length: 1:25

MPAA Classification: G

Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Narrator: John Gielgud

Director: Hugo Van Lawick

Producers: Hugo van Lawick and Tim Cowling

Written by: Michael Olmert

Cinematography: Hugo van Lawick and Matthew Aeberhard

Music: Stewart Copeland

U.S. Distributor: Discovery Channel Pictures

Cable TV channel involvement in the motion picture industry is nothing new. HBO and Showtime have been financing movies for years. However, in 1996, other cable networks have begun to stake out their piece of the action. Nickelodeon made the Paramount Pictures release, Harriet the Spy, MTV produced Joe's Apartment, and now the Discovery Channel has come out with The Leopard Son, a beautifully-photographed, thoroughly charming documentary about the coming of age of a male leopard on the plains of the Serengeti.

Even frequent viewers of made-for-TV nature specials won't be fully prepared for the majesty of The Leopard Son. This is a singularly cinematic experience that will lose much when cropped for television viewing. And, because the cinematography is by far the most important aspect of this movie, the high aptitude level evidenced by directors of photography Hugo van Lawick and Matthew Aeberhard makes this a rewarding motion picture experience.

van Lawick is a Dutch photographer and naturalist who has spent most of his adult life living on the plains of the Serengeti. In his own words, "To be as close as possible to nature as I could -- that was my dream." The Leopard Son is his filmed journal of two years in the life of a young male leopard. van Lawick's camera first captures the cub when he's only a few weeks old, then follows him through youth and adolescence to adulthood. Along the way, we observe his relationship with his mother, his first attempts at hunting his own meals, and the harsh lessons that identify his place in the food chain. And, in a film which has a leopard as the central character, there are supporting appearances by all manner of other African wildlife, including baboons, elephants, giraffes, hyenas, rhinos, cheetahs, and lions. Some children may rightfully see this as a kind of live action Lion King.

What's unusual about The Leopard Son is that it's a nature film with characters and a plot. We are drawn into the drama of the title creature's life, and find ourselves rooting for him to hunt down a meal, rediscover his mother, make peace with his half-siblings, and, in the end, find a mate. As in any well-constructed motion picture, there's humor, pathos, passion, and danger. Unfortunately, however, we are subjected to an irritatingly repetitive and superfluous voiceover provided by Sir John Gielgud. This would have been a better film without it. The Leopard Son is so well-crafted visually that it doesn't need a narrator.

van Lawick is discreet when it comes to showing the brutal consequences of being inattentive on the Serengeti, but even his carefully-edited shots of death have power. As a whole, The Leopard Son is a long string of memorable images -- a twitching tail sticking above breeze- blown grasses, golden sunlight streaming through broken clouds, a misty, pastel dawn, a leopard silhouetted by the setting sun. Depending on the circumstances, the photography can be intimate or panoramic. There are nearly as many shots of the leopard's eyes as there are broad, sweeping views of the plains.

While The Leopard Son doesn't match Jean-Jacques Annaud's 1988 feature, The Bear, for creativity and emotional power, it is still the best wildlife drama to reach theater screens in years. Even those who find Gielgud's voiceover intrusive will be so captivated by the visual splendor that they're unlikely to complain. Despite its low-key, limited release, The Leopard Son is a family gem that's worth seeking out... even if you don't have a family.

" 1996 James Berardinelli

Extract ID: 3623

external link

See also

Claytor, Tom Bushpilot
Extract Author: Tom Claytor
Page Number: 19b
Extract Date: 1996 08 Jul

visiting Baron Hugo van Lawick

I land at lake Ndutu to visit Baron Hugo van Lawick. I first met Hugo when I was working on a film called 'Serengeti Dairy' for National Geographic. The film was a celebration of his 25th year living and filming wildlife in the Serengeti, and I was part of the crew that tried to capture this place from the air. I park the plane in an empty cage designed to keep the hyenas and lions from chewing the tires, and soon a vehicle arrives to collect me. When I arrive in camp, Hugo comes out to greet me. He is in a wheelchair, and we sit by his tent looking out over the lake and drinking tea.

The nice thing about this part of the world is that traveling is so difficult that one does not usually get a lot of visitors. A visitor brings news from the outside world, and this is something that one can yearn for. Hugo first came to Africa in 1959, because he wanted to film animals. He came for two years, and he never left. He made lecture films for Louis Leakey and at age 24 shot the photographs for the articles on the Leakey's work in Africa. He was married to Jane Goodall for 10 years, and he has spent most of his life observing and recording wildlife through a lens. He is having trouble breathing with his emphysema now, but he wastes no time in filling me in on what has been happening. It seems all the wild dogs have all been exterminated by rabies brought in by the Maasai dogs; the lion numbers are down due to feline distemper, and so the cheetah numbers are up. The bat-eared foxes have been hit by rabies, and the poaching is still bad on the western boundary. According to Hugo, some people there have never tasted cow meat, only wild game meat. There are snares everywhere along that boundary, and the park used to feel very big when there weren't so many tourists. Hugo relays all this news as one might talk about the traffic jams on the way to work, and I have to quietly smile as I listen.

He then tells me about the pilot Bill Stedman who crashed his motor glider while coming in to land here last year. He was working on Hugo's film 'The Leopard Sun'; the plane just dropped out of the sky, and Bill was dead. We both pause and looked out across the lake. I ask Hugo if he remembers when we landed on that lake and built a fire on the edge as part of our 'camping scene' for the film. He remembers and chuckles about this. I was arrested shortly after that back in Seronera by armed scouts. They took me to the park warden's office, but I had no idea why. I was asked what I had done the previous day, and I explained that we had been filming by the lake and had landed on its edge. A little man confirmed that I had landed on the edge of the lake, and then I was released because I had told the truth. I was still a little confused by all this. I was told that they were going to 'compound' me and the plane, but that since I had told the truth, I would now only have to pay a fine. I shuddered to think what this fine would be, but it was only 1,500 Tanzanian Shillings (about $3).

Extract ID: 3657

external link

See also

Claytor, Tom Bushpilot
Extract Author: Tom Claytor
Page Number: 19c
Extract Date: 1996 08 Jul


I ask Hugo what he has learned out here. He tells me that he is calmer and more self-assured now, but this is probably due to age. 'You are alive thanks to luck in many ways,' he tells me. 'How fragile life is.' He explains to me that if you are out here full time, it is not good. 'You get tunnel vision and you lose your perspective.' Hugo has seen a lot of scientists and researchers pass through here. When they arrive they have a lot of fear of Africa for about six months, then they go completely the other way and become fearless. It is the same with pilots, he says, and that is the most dangerous time - when they become fearless. Hugo spent many years observing Chimpanzees when he was with his former wife Jane Goodall. He tells me the good Chimp mothers would discipline their young with a hit or a bite on the hand, followed by a hug afterwards. This is how you should treat human children, he explains. Hugo and Jane have a son named Grob, and he tells me that they never ignored his crying. If you ignore their crying, they will become insecure. I am always interested when anyone has advice on how to be a good parent. Silently, perhaps, I must be longing for this.

Chimps, to Hugo, aren't animals; they are so close to humans. He tells me about the tame Chimpanzee named Washoe in USA. It was asked to sort different photographs into humans and animals. He put the photos of himself with the humans, and he put the photo of his mother, who he didn't know, with the animals. Hugo asks me, 'If Neanderthal man were alive today, would we call him human?' In captivity, Chimps that haven't been brought up in a group don't know how to mate. Robondo is an island in Lake Victoria west of here. It is the only successful complete rehabilitation in the world of domestic Chimpanzees back into nature. Domestic Chimps know your strength; they will attack you. Wild Chimps think you are stronger, so they will run. Robondo was set up as a refuge for certain endangered species by Bernard Grzimek in the 60's. The Chimps were just dumped there. All the original adults are now gone, but when Markus Borner went there and pointed a camera lens at a female with a baby, she attacked and injured him, so perhaps they haven't forgotten everything.

Extract ID: 3658

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1998 Publishes: Serengeti Paradise

Extract ID: 3239

external link

See also

Extract Date: 1998

filmmaking has become a way of life

For Sophie Buck, whom van Lawick first employed as a camp manager, filmmaking has become a way of life. 'Here I am six years later operating camera, which is fantastic,' the award-winning cinematographer says. In particular, she says, 'Hugo has taught me mostly about light. [He] uses light in a very specific way - it's [like] painting.'

Extract ID: 136

external link

See also

Extract Date: 1998

Leopards Son: an ambitious though financially unsuccessful effort to move . . .

Leopards Son: an ambitious though financially unsuccessful effort to move natural history film into movie theaters.

Aeberhard, Matthew was a cameraman who worked with Hugo on Serengeti Symphony

Extract ID: 1070

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1999 Publishes: van Lawick, Hugo Serengeti Symphony

Extract ID: 3882

See also

van Lawick, Hugo Serengeti Symphony
Extract Date: 1999 March 31

Serengeti Symphony Charity Screening

Charity Screening in Dar es Salaam on 1999 March 31

Extract ID: 1071

external link

See also

van Lawick, Hugo Serengeti Symphony
Extract Date: 2000

User Comment

Internet Movie Database

User Comments:


The Hague,Netherlands ( )

Date: 26 April 2000

Summary: Wonderful portrait of the Serengeti with only classical music and no commentary

This was Hugo van Lawick's last project before he broke up his permanent tented camp at the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. It's like his other movie for cinema,"The Leopard Son", but this time no story but just pictures of animals and landscapes with classical music, a lot like the acclaimed "Fantasia" 1940 and "Fantasia/2000", the difference of course being that this is no animation but reality.The film only lasts 81 minutes which is disappointingly short but probably just long enough for a child's attention span. It shows animals, thematically grouped together like small animals, birds, predators. The classical music is of a lighter variety than in both "Fantasia"'s. In the beginning even too light, but gradually it becomes quite enjoying for concertgoers. The highlight is a scene where a lion attacks a buffalo, whereafter the herd marches together to come to the rescue,all accompanied by Tchaikowski's great "Overture 1812". The film is suitable for young children as no animals get killed and Serengeti looks like an animal's paradise where all animals live peacefully together, except for one or two short hunts. This is a real Eden. It seems as if it didn't take much trouble shooting this film, but when you know Hugo van Lawick's dedication and also know how few animals one gets to see as a tourist, it's obvious that this took quite some time to make. Watch "The Leopard Son" if you prefer the kind of animal- films-with-a-story, but this one if "Fantasia" is more your kind of movie.I rate it an 8/10.

Extract ID: 3350

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Arusha Times
Extract Author: Staff Writer
Page Number: No. 00248
Extract Date: Nov 30, 2002

Museum to host Hugo Van Lawick exhibitions

Special picture exhibitions and film shows in honour of the late Baron Hugo van Lawick will be held at the Arusha National Natural Historical Museum as from the 10th of December this year.

Organized by Baron's own brother, Godi van Lawick in conjunction with the National Museum, the exhibitions will go on to January next year before shifting venues to Dar es Salaam.

Baron, who died last June aged 65 years is still remembered as one of the most famous Tanzanian tourism potential in the field of wildlife.

The late Hugo van Lawick, with his wife Jane Goodall, together produced some of the most eye-catching wildlife films of all time including: "The People of the Forest" which was also dubbed in Kiswahili under the title: "Watu wa Msituni!"

Other Hugo and Goodall productions are the classic "Among the Wild Chimpanzees" and "The Baboons of Gombe!"

Hugo also produced: "Wings Over Serengeti", "Born to Run", "Climbing Kilimanjaro", "Serengeti My Backyard", "The Serengeti Sympathy (Walt Disney Pictures)" and "The Leopard Son!"

All his films based on tales of passion, love social integration, hunting, child-care and defense tactics among wild animals, will be shown at the museum event this month.

Also to be displayed will be hundreds of photographs taken by the late Hugo during his wildlife adventures and escapades.

Apart from being a film producer and expert photographer, Baron Hugo also wrote three books: The Bush Baby, Grub, and Innocent Killers, with his wife Jane and later wrote Savage Paradise, Solo Sand Rivers, Among Predators, Prey and Last Days in Eden.

The President of Tanzania, Benjamin William Mkapa bestowed the late Baron Hugo with a "Presidential Award" for his outstanding contribution to the nation.

However, Hugo also won The Brudgord Washburn Award of the Museum of Sciences - Boston (USA) and the "L�Ordre Du Meite" of the Republic of Senegal.

His full biography will appear in the next issue of the Arusha Times.

Extract ID: 3625

See also

Arusha Times
Extract Author: Iman Mani
Page Number: No. 00249
Extract Date: December 7, 2002

Hugo van Lawick

Hugo van Lawick: Left behind for humanity a long list of films and book on wildlife.

A special photo exhibition and film shows in honour of the late Hugo van Lawick will be held at the Arusha National Museum of Natural History from December 10 to January next year. The late Lawick with his wife Jane Goodall produced some of the greatest wildlife films of all time.

It is common knowledge to anyone who knew the late naturalist, Hugo van Lawick, that this man had an immense love, interest and concern for animals, together with a great fondness for taking pictures.

Therefore, it will come as no surprise to learn that when a 15-year-old, Hugo, as he preferred being called throughout his 65 years, had gone to Holland's largest national park with a school-debating club, just to take pictures of the animals there.

Concerning this occasion, Hugo, once told this writer in one of their many conversations: "I was the best at crawling on my stomach to snap the animals. Therefore, my other colleagues asked me to take their pictures for them with their cameras."

It was at this time he realized that he had unique ways with animals. This brought much comfort to the younger Hugo, who was very fond of watching programmes related to wild animals on the newly introduced television in the country.

Along with taking pictures, Hugo said that he always had a great interest in working with animals for as long as he could remember.

He suspected that this had something to do with his mother's habit of keeping domestic animals. When the family lived in Indonesia, where Hugo was born and lived until four years of age, his mother had many pets and in Holland, rather ideally for him, they lived in a small spread-out village on the edge of a forest.

Later on, when he began his lifetime work with animals he was often criticized for attributing animals with human feelings. However, at a later time he was very pleased to learn that scientists were saying that animals do have emotions like humans and were able to prove it.

Further, it should not come as any surprise to learn that upon completing his schooling and a two-year compulsory national service, the then 20-year old Hugo van Lawick joined a company in Holland as an apprentice assistant cameraman for two years.

On completion of this two-year stint, he felt that he had gained enough confidence so applied to the producers, Armand and Michaela Denis, of a popular television programme in Holland at the time called "On Safari�; for a job as a cameraman.

The application was successful so an overjoyed 22-year-old Hugo flew to Kenya where he worked for almost two years, which was followed by three months catching rhinoceroses for a project on a Kenyan game reserve.

When Hugo joined the Denis's in 1960, he only had one amateur camera but while there he was able to earn enough money to buy his first set of professional equipment.

While on the rhino project he earned enough to spend one month in Nairobi looking for work. During this time he became aquatinted with Louis and Mary Leakey's son, who remained a best friend throughout Hugo's life.

He met the Leakey's, who had heard of Hugo's skills with the camera, through this son. As a way of helping to reduce his expenses, while he was in the capital city, the family welcomed him to stay with them.

When the National Geographic Society phoned Louis Leakey a few days later and expressed the desire of making a film on the anthropologist at work, Hugo happened to be in the right place at the right time to be given the job of cameraman.

By filming how the Leakey's were evacuating fossils in 1962, Hugo van Lawick got his introduction to Olduvai Gorge and the Serengeti National Park at the same time.

This was an exciting time for him, as he later admitted to this writer, for when he was a teenager he liked collecting fossils. "Now I was filming the experts at work doing just that," he said.

National Geographic liked the film and invited him to Washington for discussions towards further work, which included filming Jane Goodall's work with chimpanzees.

These talks resulted in Hugo being kept busy for the next five years making films for National Geographic and taking still pictures for their magazine, until 1967 when he decided on a more independent working style.

By then he was married to Jane Goodall and a father, with his camp in the Serengeti National Park. For Hugo van Lawick home was now in the Ngorongoro Conservation area.

Together with Jane Goodall, Hugo embarked on a research project on hyenas, jackals and wild dogs, which resulted in them publishing a book in 1970 entitled "Innocent Killers".

He then made a film on African wild dogs, which was very successful and caused a stir amongst the general public plus won many awards.

Years later in reference to this period in time, Hugo said: "This was when my career took off as an independent film producer. Since then I have done over 40 films as producer/cameraman. I like photography most of all."

As a direct extension of Hugo's work in this area, in the mid eighties he started working with other cameramen as an executive producer.

Hugo van Lawick has left behind for humanity a long list of wild life films in which he has been involved as cameraman, producer, director, co-producer, chief cameraman, executive producer or a combination of any two.

The list of awards for these works is as numerous as his list of films to his credit. He has also left behind for prosperity an impressive collection of photographs to his name and has authored or co-authored a number of books concerning wild life.

After well over thirty years living in the Ngorongoro Conservation area, Hugo van Lawick's last film entitled "The Serengeti Symphony", which he said love pushed him into making, was given a special showing at the former Avalon cinema in Dar es Salaam on March 31, 1999.

"I love the Serengeti and felt a need of making a feature film, which captured the true feelings of the place for all people to share," Hugo replied when asked on the evening of the showing why he made the one and a half hour film that took him three years to complete.

Primarily, he wanted to call this acclaimed masterpiece, "The Savage Paradise", after the title of a book he had published much earlier but changed his mind after seeing the end product for the first time. "I realized that there was nothing savage in it," he admitted.

He finally settled for "The Serengeti Symphony" having come to the realization that the film is basically "images put to music". This pleased him very much because he wanted it to be suitable for entire families, including children.

When asked where he gets such patience form to film such time-consuming scenes as can be seen in his films and still pictures Hugo replied: "It is my determination to get on film the animals" natural actions and beauty that brings the patience. I am totally against staging anything because

I think it is morally wrong towards the animals."

The first out of two sons, Hugo van Lawick, was born in Surabaja, Indonesia, on April 10, 1937, where he only spent first four years of his life. He then spent the next year in Australia, then five in the UK, 12 in The Netherlands followed by two in Kenya.

The remainder of his 42 years were given to Tanzania, with over thirty of them living in the Ngorongoro Conservation area immortalizing the Serengeti on film for prosperity.

The Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation area had become Hugo van Lawick's home, until the late nineties.

Poor health had forced him to move out of the bush for a tamer environment in Arusha region.

Later he had to move to the Msasani section of Dar es Salaam, to be with his son, daughter in-law and their three children.

It is in the seaside city of Dar es Salaam that the naturalist, Hugo van Lawick, spent his last days surrounded by his son, daughter-in-law, grandchildren, relations, colleagues and a large number of friends and admirers.

However, this is not the end of the story. When all preparations were made for his cremation at the Shree Hindu Crematorium, Dr es Salaam, word came from State House that the Government would cover all expenses to bury him at Ndutu Camp in the Serengeti.

A fitting end for the man who gave up living in the towns and cities to live in the bush, just to take pictures, write books and make films of the animals there.

Extract ID: 3624

See also

nTZ Feedback
Extract Author: Maurice Knight
Page Number: 2003 04 24
Extract Date: 24 April 2003

Solo: Story of an African Wild Dog

Sent: 24 April 2003 17:57

Subject: Re: van Lawick Video

Dear Sir/Madam:

I wish to purchase a copy of the video Solo: Story of an African Wild Dog by Hugo van Lawick. Can you recommend a source where it might be purchased?


Maurice Knight


The short answer is that I haven't a clue.

However, I find that the film was shown at the Wildscreen 2002 festival in Bristol England



An unmissable series of hosted film screenings from the ARKive library, spanning 60 years of natural history filmmaking. Each event will last for approx 90 minutes and will take place in the intimate 80 seat ARKive Theatre, 3rd Floor, At-Bristol.




The late Hugo van Lawick produced some of the most classical wildlife films of all time. Living in Africa for more than 30 years, his films were based on tales of passion, social integration, hunting, survival and defence tactics among wild animals. Here is an opportunity to see extracts from filmed interviews with this pioneering wildlife filmmaker from ARKive's collection of oral histories and to watch "Solo" a captivating story of an African wild dog pup made by Hugo in the mid 1970's. This film identified the individual personalities of the animals - a revolutionary approach to wildlife film making at the time. The event is hosted by Karen Hoy, a wildlife film producer who worked with Hugo at his camp in Tanzania.


And I see that ARKive have a web site (due to launch fully in May), with contact information at

So perhaps an email to them may help your search.

Good luck

Let me know how you get on.


Extract ID: 4472

See also

nTZ Feedback
Extract Author: Wolfgang Tepple
Page Number: 2003 07 03
Extract Date: 03 July 2003

Wolfgang Tepple - Serengeti Symphony

Could you advise me if there are DVDs/Video available of Serengeti Symphony by Hugo Van Lawicks and how to obtain them?

Wolfgang Teppler

Calgary Alberta, Canada

This film is hard to find.

It was made in 35mm and designed for showing in cinemas. I have been told that the Tanzanian Government hold the distribution rights, and have limited the publication of any VHS or DVD versions so as to maximise the exposure in the cinemas! If you do a Google search for "Serengeti Symphony" you will see that most of the listings are for one-off showings of the film.

Certainly it is impossible to find in the UK, and on Amazon (UK, US and NL at least).

I found my VHS copy in SOuth Africa (Johannesburg Airport).

I'm not sure, but I may also have seen a copy on sale recently in Tanzania.

If things change, or I found out any more, I'll try to remember to let you know.



Thank you for your reply.

I save a TV production on the making of the film and thought that a DVD/VHS might have been produced of the final product. I have had the fortune of spending some time in Kenya (& the Serengeti) and it brought back some wonderful memories of a fabulous place.

I have a friend working in Johannesburg. Do you think there still might be copies available there?

Thanks again for all your help.


Wolfgang Teppler

Extract ID: 4474

See also

Arusha Times
Extract Author: Terri Rice
Page Number: 381
Extract Date: 6 Aug 2005

Yet another private theatre-of-nature

This week I would like to share another of my favourite memories with you. This story is about the week which I spent with my husband camping out in a wooden cabin on the floor of Ngorongoro Crater. Hugo needed more sound recordings and film footage for a documentary which he was completing about lions. We settled into the cabin with our gear and set off to search for the hunters. These we soon found in the form of two lionesses, one of whom had four small cubs in her den area. Every day, just before sunrise, they would make their leisurely way down to the river, where they knew that many zebra and wildebeeste would come to drink, and hid themselves from sight in the surrounding undergrowth. They were not disturbed by our escorting them; Hugo had a great love and respect for all wild creatures and never approached them directly, always following at a discrete distance. Unfortunately, some safari drivers had no such scruples and would make a lot of noise, trying to spot the "big cats" for their tourists' cameras. Invariably one of the lionesses would raise her head to see what had shattered the peace, the about-to-drink grazing animals would depart in great haste on flying hooves, the lionesses would lose their lunch and the tourists would get their lion shots (they never seemed to realize that a little more time, silence and patience would in all probability have rewarded them with much more exciting lion-kill photos). We tried hard not to attract these drivers' attention to the river, using the ploy of parking some distance away, pointedly fixing our binocular sights on the weavers and other birds chattering and warbling up in the trees and hoping to pass for a couple of avid ornithologists with no interest at all, thank you very much, in lions and such beasties.

This scenario was enacted daily and it was sad to follow our lovely lion ladies in the evening light as they wended their way home, disappointment and hunger almost palpable on the air. Especially sad was when the mother female reached her lair with nothing for the bounding-out, hoping-for-food, cubs. However, there was a happy ending (for the lions and me at any rate - if not for the photographer!). Let me digress first to the sound recording tale.

Just before sunset one day, we drove over to a small hill where 5 lions were wont to hang out, laze about and generally do the accepted male thing of waiting to spot one of their wives making a kill. When this happened they would lumber down from their watch-tower hill and take over the "lions share". They looked well-fed as we drove near and merely blinked the odd eye at us before dropping back off to sleep. Recording equipment at the ready, we sat silently and waited. Just as the sun was setting, painting its beautiful farewell colours across the sky, one of the lions awoke, yawned, stretched and ... began to roar. One by one, the others slowly followed his example. The sound was incredible, their roars seeming to echo back from the caldera walls. For me it was awesome and hair-raising; my knees somehow seemed to turn to jelly and the hairs rose up on the nape of my neck. I was no longer in a Land Rover but in some strange time warp, taken back to the beginning of time. The feeling of oneness with nature was indescribable.

Happy with his recordings, Hugo decided to give up on the lion kill shots and head back to his beloved Serengeti. Accordingly, we awoke early on our last Crater day, stowed everything away in the appropriate boxes in the back of our vehicle; mattresses, unused food supplies, rubbish to be disposed of later and (note this) cameras, lenses, etc. Have you guessed my ending? The sun was just rising as our route took us past the river. Hugo wanted to press on but agreed to stop for me to have one last long look at what was really one of the most beautiful sunrises I had so far seen. But somebody was there before us. Some bodies were already there before us. The quiet drinking of grazing animals suddenly shattered into panic as two lean yellow bodies erupted from their hiding place, leapt on a young wildebeeste and brought him down without further ado. It was very mean of me to grin at the expression on my husband's apoplectic face as he groped blindly around for a too late, too far, too boxed-up camera.

The lionesses then did some amazing things. They both ripped into the belly of their meal, covering their faces with blood but not really eating. The mother then took off at a trot, to return some small time later proudly leading her young ones to the spot where she had brought down their dinner. The look on her face was one of almost human dismay when it was - not there! The cubs repeatedly and excitedly leapt at her bloodied face; "where is it then? Where? A sudden low growl directed them to where the other lioness had dragged the kill into and under some bushes (to hide it from the menfolk of the pride?) and all ended well as they piled in and proceeded to stuff themselves silly.

My respect for the in-charge lioness knew no bounds; her self-control in refraining from eating until the others returned was truly amazing. We left them to it, and slowly drove towards the Crater exit road, reaching it just as the tourist vehicles started slowly winding their way down the entrance path. I hugged to myself the warm feeling of being blessed again with yet another private theatre-of-nature experience and kept smiling like an idiot all the way home. Have a good week!!

Extract ID: 5082

See also

not known Publishes: van Lawick, Hugo Africa's Great Migration

Extract ID: 3251

See also

not known Publishes: van Lawick, Hugo Race for Life

Extract ID: 3250