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Name: COWIE, Mervyn Hugh CBE, FSAA (Col.)

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Nee: second son of Capt. Herbert Hugh Cowie, twin brother of Dudley Hugh

Birth Date: 13 Apr 1909 Nairobi

Death Date: 19 July 1996 Ipswich, Suffolk

First Date: 1909

Last Date: 1979

Profession: 1951-60 he was a Member of the Legislative Council and he also served as Director of Manpower during the Kenya Emergency. He was appointed Director, Royal National Parks of Kenya

Area: Thika, Nairobi, 1930 Box 409

Married: 1. 1934 Erica Mary 'Mollie' Beaty b. 2 June 1904, d. 20 June1956 Nairobi; 2. 1957 Valori Hare Duke b. 13 May 1923 Cairo, d. 9 Feb 2003 Suffolk

Children: 1. Hugh Richard Mervyn (1936); Ian Alexander (20 Aug 1938-2006 Nairobi); Anna Mitzi (1940) 2. David; Virginia

Author: 'Fly Vulture' 1961; 'I Walk with Lions' (USA) 1964; 'African Lion' 1965

Book Reference: Gillett, Last Chance, Sitrep 2, O&C, Who's Who, Carson, Sundown, Tsavo, Red 31, Karen 50, Hut, Pembroke, Year Book, O&C, Darling, Barnes, Chandler, Red Book 1912, Web

War Service: Reserve of Officers, KAR 1932-38 & Kenya Regt., WW2 in Abyssinia, Middle East, Madagascar

School: Government School Nairobi, Brighton College, Brasenose College Oxford 1930-32 & in London

General Information:

Last Chance - (1948) - Mervyn Cowie is the Executive Officer for Kenya's National Parks. And when I wrote of Kenyans who seem to have found just the very job that was made for them, I had this youthful ex-colonel, ex-chartered accountant in mind. I don't want to deal in superlatives, even though Kenya is a country of extremes, but I think he is one of the most quietly contented men I have ever come across.  
One of the original '500' men in the Kenya Regt. in 1937. (KR 399).  
President of the Oxford & Cambridge Society - 1948   
Who's Who - Hon. Game Warden 1932- ; Mem. Nairobi Dist. Council 1932-36; KAR, Reserve of Officers 1932-38 (3rd & 5th Battalions); Kenya Regt. 1939; served war of 1939-45 Abyssinia, Middle East, Madagascar (retd. Lieut.-Col.); MLC Kenya 1951-60; Dir. of Manpower, Mau Mau Emergency 1953-56. Founder and Dir. Royal National Parks of Kenya 1946-66. Vice.-Pres. EA Travel Tourist Ass. 1950-65. Mem. Nat. Parks Commn. Internat. Union for Conservation of Nature 1959-66. Hon. Trustee Uganda Nat. Parks 1950- ; etc.  
Carson - Lake Rudolf, Loyangalani - met Vivyan Ward, Capt. Ritchie, the Game Warden and Dr. Hassan. A long form lay stretched on a bed seemingly asleep, and this, I was informed, was Pat Ayre. Other members of this very high-powered reconnaisance party, which had come from Marsabit to vary the boundaries of the then Northern Game Reserve, included George Adamson and Mervyn Cowie. ........ Vivyan Ward was master of ceremonies and most successfully did he feed us all with a varied and full menu. ....….  
Sundown - Mervyn Cowie had a wonderful car of which he was justly proud. It was a brand new American Ford V8 station wagon with a beautiful custom-built wooden body, luxury leather seats, and a magnificent rhino horn curving proudly upwards from the radiator cap.
Obituary - Mervyn Cowie, the founder and first director of the Royal National Parks of Kenya who has died aged 87 championed and furthered the cause of wildlife in EA for over 40 years. His zeal had its roots in his colonial childhood, when Cowie came to know African wildlife at first hand. The family lived 30 miles from Nairobi in rondavels. Cowie loved this world and lived to see it change - transformed, he wrote, 'by the advancement of sordid dull, Western civilization'. Although he tracked and shot animals, the experience left Cowie with remorse and respect for the hunted animal. 'Man must learn to behave properly,' he said, 'and beast must be given a place to live.' These feelings were at the heart of what became his life's cause. In 1932, having spent some years in England, Cowie returned to Kenya, and was shocked at the change that had taken place. Settlements and cattle occupied areas of land where previously lions had freely roamed; big game was scarce. An accountant, Cowie began his amateur campaign to establish national parks similar to those in America, and South Africa's Kruger National Park. Kenya's game reserves, while protecting game from the hunter, had crucially failed to protect game from thousands of advancing cattle, herded by tribesmen, which squeezed wildlife off the land. Cowie gained support and his campaign finally gathered momentum. By 1938, the government felt compelled to appoint a Game Policy Committee formulate a wildlife protection policy for Kenya, and by the end of 1946 the Nairobi National Park was proclaimed. In 1950, with permission from King George VI, the Parks became the Royal National Parks of Kenya. On Feb. 5 1952, Treetops, the hotel in Aberdare National Park, was host to Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh. Princess Elizabeth emerged the next morning as Queen - though she was not aware of her father's death until midday. Mervyn Cowie was born in Nairobi on April 13 1909, the second son of Captain H.H. Cowie, one of the two first unofficial Members of Legislative Council in Nairobi. After attending Brighton College and Brasenose College, Oxford, he became a chartered accountant, returning to Kenya in 1932 to take up his profession. That year he became an honorary game warden, and a member of the King's African Rifles Reserve of Officers with which he remained until 1938. During the Second World War he served with the Kenya Regiment in Abyssinia, the Middle East and Madagascar, and rose to the rank of lieutenant-colonel. After the war, with the establishment of the parks, Cowie became responsible for staffing, buildings, construction of roads and prevention of poaching. Cowie raised funds for the parks, partly by lecturing; he spoke frequently at international conferences. He accrued many honours in his lifetime, and in 1960 was appointed CBE and granted an Efficiency Decoration by the Queen. He raised money for the World Wildlife Fund in London, later joining Michael Wood as financial director of the Flying Doctor Service in EA. In 1979 he retired to Suffolk. The film 'Where No Vultures Fly' (1951) was based on his endeavours. He wrote two books: 'Fly, Vulture' (1961), and 'The African Lion' (1966). Mervyn Cowie married first in 1934, Mollie Beatie, who died in 1956; they had 2 sons and a daughter. He married secondly, in 1957, Valori Hare Duke; they had a son and a daughter.
Karen 50 - One of the original members of Karen Club in 1937 (Mr & Mrs)
Pembroke - 1966 -  'Council … selected Hugh Cowie, Kenya born, educated at Kenton College, the Prince of Wales School, Nairobi and Brasenose College, Oxford. His credentials were impeccable and, with a bright 33 year old Headmaster, it seemed the crisis was well solved and Council could return to being a figurehead body. Cowie was dynamic and in three years had improved staff housing, built science labs and a squash court and initiated ambitious School expeditions that included a descent into Longonot Crater and climbing both Mounts Kenya and Kilimanjaro. Yet he had a dark side and one pupil (now himself a headmaster) wrote: - However my two overriding memories of three very long years there [at Pembroke] were: being cold from having to swim morning, noon and night; being frightened. It was commonplace to be beaten for failing tests. I was beaten for representing the second XI and losing to Turi first XI. I was also beaten with a hunting crop. Cowie had to leave suddenly …. The event almost ruining Pembroke House.'
Year Book 1953/4 - '….. At the National Theatre ….. At Christmas time, Mrs Mervyn Cowie, famous in Nairobi for her wonderful and artistic productions casting anything up to 50 players ranging from the ages of four to fifty, might put on a pantomime. …..'
Darling - 1956 - Mervyn, who in addition to being Director of the Royal National Parks, a man devoted to his work, is a member of the Legislative Council and is very bold. He has an eye for men, and I am much impressed with the men he has gathered round him. …..
Nairobi Forest Road Cemetery - Erica Mary Cowie, British, age 46, died 20/1/56
Red Book 1912 - M.H. Cowie - Nairobi
Web - President of Nairobi Rotary Club - 1950-51
Gazette 5/4/1938 - Honorary Game Warden
Telegraph - 27/7/1996 - Obituary on file
Gazette 6 Dec 1938 Kiambu Voters List
KR 399

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