Name ID 787
Mercer, Graham Tarangire
Page Number: a
Extract Date: 1928
Even as late as German times (1880s – 1916) Tarangire seems to have been largely overlooked, though once again it is likely that a few adventurous hunters visited the area during the dry season.
The British period is hardly any richer in historical information, though there is some interesting social history involved, as a few colourful Europeans once lived in and around Babati, just west of Tarangire.
Among the most notable was the Swedish Baron Bror von Blixen, ex-husband of the author of Out of Africa, Karen Blixen. The likeable but rather feckless Bror had remarried, to a lady called "Cockie" Hoogterp, and settled near Babati around 1928.
Bror and Cockie lived in a tent before building a very simple hut. In November 1928 Edward, Prince of Wales (who later abdicated the British throne) visited East Africa and travelled to Tanganyika to hunt lions, under the guidance of Denys Finch Hatton, Karen Blixen's paramour (Bror Blixen, when married to Karen, would introduce himself and his friend Finch Hatton by announcing "I'm Blixon and this is my wife's lover").
The prince badly wanted to shoot a fine lion, and Finch Hatton had recommended Bror as a good "lion man", so Bror and "Cockie" were invited to join the royal party at the New Arusha Hotel in Arusha.
Next day "Cockie" hurried back to Babati to prepare for the prince's arrival. When he arrived "Cockie" was asleep; Bror had invited the prince's party to lunch without telling her. "Cockie" had nothing to offer the guests except eggs, which Prince Edward happily helped her to scramble. Later he took Bror aside and asked how he could possibly allow his wife to live in such circumstances.
After lunch the party drove to Mount Ufiome (just outside present-day Tarangire) where the prince finally bagged the lion he so badly wanted.
However, the safari was abandoned when the prince received a telegram from London announcing that his father, George V, was seriously ill. He returned to England at once.
Mercer, Graham Tarangire
Page Number: d
Extract Date: 1928
The Blixen home outside Babati might have been a shambles but the location was superb. There was big game around, including elephants and buffaloes. Bror's nephew later said that the house was "on a site that was quite possibly the most beautiful in Africa". More adventurous visitors to Tarangire nowadays, if they have the means and the time, might wish to drive down to Babati, where such lovely scenery might still be appreciated.
But if the Blixens had found Paradise in Babati they were not to find it in their marriage. Bror, said to be popular with everyone, had a reputation as a "ladies' man". And he was often away, sometimes for as long as 3 months, on hunting safaris.
One day a Swedish lady, Eva Dickson, turned up in Babati with a woman friend, after driving all the way from Dar. Eva had come to meet Bror and soon became a threat to "Cockie", who told Bror "Either she goes or I do". It was "Cockie" who went. Later she said "I have never regretted anything in my life as much as leaving Blix". She also said "He was a wonderful – unfaithful – husband, and the best lover I ever had".
Even Karen Blixen, in her old age, said that if she could have one moment of her life over again, she would choose to be on safari with Bror.
Bror eventually returned to Sweden and, after a relationship with Eva, married another woman, with whom he seemed to find happiness in his last years. "Cockie" also remarried and went to live in South Africa.
The events mentioned above took place a little way outside the present park boundaries, but before the Tarangire area was gazetted as a game reserve, in 1957, it was open to hunting parties and known for its abundant game. Local people also carried out some hunting, honey-gathering and fishing.
Newly proposed National Park
Amin, Mohamed; Willetts, Duncan and Marshall, Peter Journey Through Tanzania
Extract Date: 1984
Tarangire is dominated throughout by the valley of the Tarangire River which attracts animals from the Maasai Steppe during the dry season. Although mainly acacia savannah, there are pockets of scrub and thicket, as well as rocky outcrops. Elephant, buffalo and lion can easily be observed. Lesser and greater kudu are common, and the rare gerenuk or giraffe-gazelle lives on the western border. It is also the only habitat in Tanzania of the oryx. When seen in profile the oryx sometimes appears to have only one long straight horn, which may have given rise to the myth of the unicorn.
The landscape of Tarangire National Park in the Northeast part of Tanzania is right out of the Jurassic Age. It could well have served as a model for one of those paintings in National Geographic magazine depicting the age of dinosaurs. You expect at any moment, to see a Stegosaurus or Triceratops or perhaps even a Tyrannosaurus rex wandering amid those eerily prehistoric Baobab trees. It is thick with giant Baobab trees, probably the greatest concentration of them left in East Africa. And there are expansive grasslands, graceful acacias, and duom palms that rise tall on slender trunks to branch into several arcs of fluttering palm trees. However, it is the mbuyu, or Baobab, that dominates this land.
The Baobab is the tree of life, and the tree of mystery and legend. It is said, backed by some scientific evidence, to be among the oldest of living things, more than two thousand years old in some cases. It is, according to African lore, the tree where man was born. With squat trunk and stubby branches, it looks like a tree that has been uprooted and stuck back into the ground upside down.