Michael Grzimek

Born 14 April 1934

Dies 10 Jan 1959

Name ID 209

See also

Heminway, John No Man's Land: The Last of White Africa
Page Number: 169
Extract Date: 1950's

Serengeti Shall Not Die

Alan's work with the Denises was interrupted one day by a zebra-striped Dornier aircraft that circled the Serengeti headquarters and landed next to the game warden's house. The plane was piloted by Bernhard and Michael Grzimek. a father-and-son team from Frankfurt. Germany. They wanted to record the movements of the herds of wildebeest and zebra over the course of a year, in hopes that the legal boundaries of the park would one day contain their migration. The first order of business was to hire a cameraman. Did the game warden happen to know one? Myles Turner, a man of fierce loyalties, made it clear that they could do no better than Alan Root, who happened to be filming nearby. Before Alan had even heard of the arrangement. Myles had successfully negotiated his contract.

The film they made with Alan was called ‘Serengeti Shall not die’. Of the few collaborations Alan has made, he can remember none so pleasant. He and Michael were much alike, not only in age. but in their approach to the game. They both were curious about the complex set of debts and promises that connect predators and prey: they both were consumed by the extravagance of life on these plains: and both of them were comics and daredevils.

The fun came to an end one day when Michael, flying alone, struck a vulture in midflight. With the ailerons and flaps jammed, the plane went into a dive. Michael was buried on the lip of the Ngorongoro Crater and the epitaph on his gravestone is simple: "Michael Grzimck - 11.4.1934 to 10.1.1959. He gave all he possessed for the wild animals of Africa, including his life."

Extract ID: 4156

external link

See also

Claytor, Tom Bushpilot
Extract Author: Tom Claytor
Page Number: 18h
Extract Date: 1996 July 03

the Grzimeks

It was the German Veterinarian, Bernard Grzimek, who said, 'Must everything be turned into deserts, farmland, big cities, native settlements and dry bush? One small part of the continent at least should retain its original splendor so that the black and white men who follow us will be able to see it in its awe-filled past glory.' His battle cry was, 'Serengeti, at least, shall not die.'

Bernard and his son, Michael, landed in Serengeti after flying 4,000 miles from Frankfurt in their Dornier 27 bush aircraft. There was no mistaking their aircraft; it looked like a gigantic zebra with black and white stripes across its entire length. I have flown this type of aircraft before and it is perfect for landing anywhere in the middle of nowhere. I remember looking at pictures of this famous plane surrounded by thousands of game is a vast open treeless plain. Bernard and Michael had come out to study migration patterns in the Serengeti and demonstrate that the proposed excisions would be disastrous for the Serengeti ecosystem. In Bernard's book, Serengeti Shall Not Die, he stressed that it can be easier to work with a dictatorship on matters of conservation than it is to work with a democracy, because you don't have to deal with parliaments, and you can get on with the job.

Extract ID: 3652

See also

Turner, Kay Serengeti Home
Page Number: 154
Extract Date: 1958

The Grzimeks

Bernard Grzimek and his son Michael, were invited by the Board of Trustess, at their own expense, to carry out an aerial count of the plains animals in the Serengeti; to plot their main Migration routes; and to advise on the proposed new boundaries of the Park.

At first the Grzimeks had contemplated buying, as a game sanctuary, part of Momella in Tanzania - a beautiful farm, owned by a German named Trappe. The farm was set amongst forests and lakes at the foot of Mount Meru and overlooked Mount Kilimanjaro to the east. It was a paradise for game, and is now a National Park, 42 square miles in extent. Professor Grzimek sought the advice of Colonel Peter Molloy, the Director of Parks, who suggested that the money be used for a research project in the Serengeti.

Extract ID: 302

See also

Turner, Myles My Serengeti Years
Page Number: 021a

Michael was killed in 1959

Tragically, Michael was killed in 1959 when his plane collided with a vulture over the Malambo Mountains. . .

Extract ID: 4196

external link

See also

Busemeyer, Karl Ludwig (Mucky) Log-Book about an Airship-Expedition to Tanzania
Extract Author: Michael Grzimek
Page Number: 06
Extract Date: 1959

A school outing

in „Serengeti shall not die“,

... A school outing can be marvellous, but when one has to write an essay about it afterwards, it can spoil the experience in retrospect...

Extract ID: 5050

external link

See also

Busemeyer, Karl Ludwig (Mucky) Log-Book about an Airship-Expedition to Tanzania
Page Number: 12
Extract Date: 2 2 98

The Ngorongoro crater and the outstanding permit

Next morning, fog, mist and some light drizzle over the crater with light winds. Today's programme was to pay the chief conservationist of the area a visit and finally sort out payment for all our local flying and filming permits. We had already paid the Prime Minister's office and the Tanzanian CAA quite a lot of money but the local authorities wanted their share too. Mysteriously, the bill came to quite a few thousand US dollars, which was more than twice that negotiated from Germany. We knew that without payment we could not fly, and the officer knew that as well. It was left to Jürgen (in his first life a banker) to sit down with him and, after a few hours, come back with a satisfactory compromise.

The film team had already started off on a crater safari, and Fredie and I had driven to the little airstrip to check whether we could fly the airship from it. There were no problems, but the local heavier-than-air pilots warned to watch for strange gusts and thermals. It wasn't airship weather, and as the permits still hadn't been granted, we went to see the Grzimek monument a few kilometres off the airstrip at the edge of the crater. Father and son are both buried there. Michael was killed in an aeroplane accident early 1959 and his father, Bernhard, died in early 1987. His last will was to rest next to his son. I was filled with emotion, because I knew the whole story from the old book. We stood gazing out across the crater taking in the vastness of the scene; at 20km in diameter, the largest meteor crater in the world. Grzimek wrote about the Ngorongoro as the 'largest natural zoo in the world', and that is exactly what it seemed to me.

Extract ID: 5056

external link

See also

Claytor, Tom Bushpilot
Extract Author: Tom Claytor
Page Number: 18i
Extract Date: 1996 July 03

Bernard Grzimek's plane

Rian stops the land rover on the crater rim, and we walk a short way through lush forest. The early morning mist is hanging in the trees. Rian pulls back some tall grass, and there is Bernard Grzimek's plane. I find it hard to speak. There is a moment when a story that one has only read or heard becomes a sudden reality. You can touch it. It is true. Michael Grzimek was flying in the Olkarien gorge northwest of here, near the Gol Mountains. The Ruppell's vulture nest there. He hit a vulture in flight, and it went straight through the window and killed him. I can't recall how many times I have stared at a vulture in the air. They must think it strange that such large birds can fly. The trick is to pull up and go over them. Perhaps, they can't judge distance well, but it is always at the last moment that they fold their wings in panic and drop down right in front of you. Michael and his father are buried on the Ngorongoro crater rim.

The askari tells Rian that four hyenas were spotted around my plane last night. I go out to inspect, and I can see all the tracks. One of the great dangers for an airplane in the wilds of Africa can be lions and hyenas chewing your tires. Normally, I can cut thorn brush and pile it around my wheels. This is usually enough of a deterrent to keep the tires full of air. I didn't want to cut thorn brush here, so I took out my can of pyrethrum mosquito repellent and sprayed it all over the wheels. I followed the tracks of the hyenas as they came and smelled the tires, but fortunately it worked. It is also not a good idea to leave any food in the plane. A thin aluminum airplane would be little match for the powerful jaws of a hungry hyena. Sometimes, when I write these stories, I can imagine that they may seem very strange to people who live in other parts of the world.

Confusion here: They find Bernard's plane on the crater rim, and then go on to describe Michael's crash. The remains of his plane are still on the valley floor north of Ol Karien, and not on the crater rim.

Extract ID: 3653

See also

nTZ Feedback
Extract Author: Jan Ooms
Page Number: 2004 11 14
Extract Date: 1959

Jan Ooms - Arusha School 1959-60

Could you please forward my email to Julie Sundin.

Her brother was at same school as me and we all shared the same experience - Mrs Cruikshank's food.

Thank you

Jan Ooms

p.s. I also attended Arusha school primary about 1959 - 60

p.s. my father was the one (engineer with WD & ID in Mbulu) who was contacted by the Maasai when Michael Grizmeck crashed.

I’ve included Julie as a bcc to this email, and will leave it to her to contact you.

If you find more memories together, please send them on for inclusion on the web site!

And any more information about your father will also be appreciated. How long was he at Mbulu. He must have been traveling up in the Gol mountains at the time of the crash (near Malambo), or else the Maasai came a long way to find him! I’m told that wreckage from the crash can still be found in the Malambo area.

Did you know that there is a Hollywood film being made about the Grizmeck’s at the moment?

Thank you David for email. I browsed through your site and forwarded some items to others who I know lived in Tanganyika/Tanzania. I seem to have become the contact for old boys of St Michael's school, Soni.

You might like to add this info to your website?

Dieter was at the same school and is trying to set up business in Tanzania. He may have provided you with his website? If you are looking for information about the German Colonial period, he knows where to get it.

The story of the plane crash from what my mother remembers. The Masaai came to my father's foreman who buried Michael and then came to tell my father who was in his office at Mbulu. My father then went to the crash site and presumably notified someone about it. Michael's body was reburied elsewhere.

My mother recalls the name Marsh from Arusha. Travelled out on the Warwick Castle in Feb 1958 and worked with WD & ID. Are you of that family?

We lived in Arusha and Mbulu for about 3 years and I spent a fair portion of that time without schooling and the little schooling I had was at Arusha.

I'm going out to Tanzania this January for a holiday -Dar, Arusha, Moshi, Karatu, Babati, Mbulu, Tanga, Pangani, Soni, Lushoto. Our Tanzania connection finished in 1983 when my father retired from there. He died 6 years ago in Scotland.

Extract ID: 4895

See also

Turner, Kay Serengeti Home
Page Number: 161
Extract Date: 1959 Jan

The crash

Later Myles told me what he had understood from the radio.

The message from Ngorongoro was that Michael had crashed the previous day, a few miles northeast of the crater on his way to Seronera. We were told that he had been seen flying low over some water wells in the Malambo area on the Salei Plains when the plane suddenly plunged vertically towards the ground and disappeared behind a small hill. The Maasai who witnessed this strange occurrence watched for a while to see if the plane would reappear, and when it did not he alerted the European in charge of the wells' construction. They drove in the direction the plane

was last seen and found the shattered remains of the Dornier. Michael had been killed instantaneously.

Extract ID: 4252

See also

Douglas-Hamilton, Iain and Oria Among the Elephants
Extract Date: 10 01 1959

Michael Grzimek memorial

14.4.1934 - 10.1.1959

He gave all he possessed for the wild animals of Africa, including his life

Stone memorial on Ngorongoro Crater Rim.

Extract ID: 304

See also

Fosbrooke, Henry Ngorongoro: The Eighth Wonder
Page Number: 139
Extract Date: 10 January 1959

Michael Grzimek meets his death

..the Sanjan gorge, where Michael Grzimek met his death on 10 January 1959, when his plane collided with a vulture and crashed

Extract ID: 3901

See also

Luhikula, Gratian Tourist Guide to Tanzania

died (aged 25)

died (aged 25)

Extract ID: 305

See also

1960 Publishes: Grzimek, B and M Serengeti Shall Not Die


Extract ID: 306
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