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Name: RUNDGREN, Eric Ture

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Nee: son of Ture Valdimar Rundgren, bro of Peter

Birth Date: 26 June 1918 Berwick-on-Tweed, Northumberland

Death Date: 18 Aug 1992 Australia

Nationality: Swedish

First Date: 1919

Profession: Originally appointed junior Forester in the Forestry Dept. At Karuma

Area: Makuyu, Karuma, Naro Moru

Married: 1. 1945 Patricia, dau. of George E. Borwick (1918 Kenya-1988) (div 1959); 2. Harriet

Children: 1. Donald Eric (1940); Carl David (1951); Brian Robert Ture (1955)

Book Reference: Sitrep 2, Joelson, Bror, Rundgren, Hut, Stephen Smith, Kingsley-Heath, Chandler

School: Prince of Wales School

General Information:

Pre-war volunteer to the Kenya Regiment (KR 635). One of the first 100 boys at the new Prince of Wales School.
Joelson - 1928 - Makuyu - on the edge of this district an ex-soldier farm of several thousand acres was purchased by Mr T. Rundgren, a Swede who, with excellent business acumen, cut the area up into small - but by no means too small - farms averaging 300 acres ..
Rundgren - generally acknowledged as Africa's greatest and most successful white hunter. He is a grumbling, blond volcano, high, bulky and handsome in a glowering sort of way. He might say anything and, unless you're a pretty girl, the odds are it will be gruff, abrupt or even downright rude. If you are a pretty girl, it's certain he'll be gruff, abrupt and rude. A dead-pan tease. Harriet his wife. ..... the eldest child of Ture Valdimar Rundgren ...... Eric was brought to Kenya at the age of 7 months ....….  
Rundgren - Eric Rundgren was grateful to Smith who took him to meet Mrs Wheeler, his rich American friend, at her 700 acre estate outside Nanyuki on the slopes of Mt. Kenya. The place was called Mwinga [Mawingo], and it opened Rundgren's eyes to some of the sophisticated facts of life. Percy Smith had come with Mrs Wheeler from India, bringing with them a magnificent tent, an elaborate affair with a verandah, cedar flooring, lined throughout with yellow silk and draped with Persian carpets and rare tapestries. With Mrs Wheeler was her attractive daughter, Hannah Prince, whom Rundgren adored at a distance. And there were two pet cheetahs which added a touch of almost barbaric splendour.
Rundsgren took to going to Mwinga for week-ends. Later it was for the whole of his annual months leave. Mrs Wheeler was relaxed, gay and broad-minded. Mrs Wheeler asked Rundgren to work for her full time as her estate and business manager. Percy Smith died suddenly in England leaving Mrs Wheeler heart-broken. She quickly lost interest in the place and she and her daughter left. .….
When Mrs Wheeler and her daughter left Kenya Mrs Gabriel Prud'homme (an American heiress) arrived and fell in love with the place [Mawingo] at first sight, bought it that day and offered Eric Rundgren the job of running it. Mrs P. had an income of £20,000 a year. She wanted to start a game sanctuary. To acquire animals two young farmers Maurice Randall and Noel King were engaged to assist Rundgren. ....... At the beginning of World War Two the Prudhomme's departed for America. ......... During WW2 Rundgren was a scout in the 11th Indian Division in the Sudan and Abyssinia and in 1944 he joined the Game Dept. as a game control officer at Nanyuki West at Kampia Simba ....... There were seven different occasions on which Rundgren was tossed or hit by buffalo. As a result he has suffered with back trouble for years. In one of these incidents the animal was shot in the act of goring him by Myles Turner, now Warden of the Serengeti National Park .......... Later Eric started part time farming at Naro Moru ......  
Jack Blacklaws was on safari with Myles Turner and Eric Rundgren and 6 Mexicans when Rundgren was badly mauled by a wounded leopard. Blacklaws bound up the wounds and left for Narok, 90 miles away for help. ...... the drive to Narok was agony. A DC3 was waiting at Narok with Gerald Neville who had vast experience in the treatment of animal wounds. He was in the theatre for 9 hours and was later told by 2 experienced nurses on the theatre staff that it was a miracle he still had his arms in view of the degree of tissue damage and the fact that infection was already setting in. ......... Rundgren's holding at Naro Moru ran to about 1200 acres. He lived the life of a white hunter of Blixen's generation. He took out 5 or 6 safaris a year ...... concentrated on obtaining magnificent trophies for his clients .... At a party in his honour at San Francisco 22 of the guests present could boast that they had taken elephants with 100 lbs. of ivory and over each side. .….
Ruth Woodley told of Rundgren's notoriously kali behaviour on safari. Ruth was a secretary with Ker & Downey whom Rundgren joined on a part time basis. Ruth said - 'Clients who went out with Rundgren either loved him or hated him, and not a few of the latter actually lodged their complaints in writing.' ..... In 1957 Rundgren lost confidence in the political situation in Kenya and sold the farm ........ but after tax there was no profit! ...... went to the coast to fish ....... One day Willie Hale telephoned and asked him to kill some buffalo at the coast, then elephant at Lamu ..... He mad £1830 in 4/5 weeks. ...…
By the time he parted from his wife Pat in 1959 he had moved back to Nairobi and was a full-time white hunter. .........
In about 1963 he married one of his clients - Harriet and left Kenya in 1964 to set up a safari hunting business in Bechuanaland (now Botswana).
Stephen Smith - Eric, who for many years hunted for the Game Department in Kenya on elephant and other heavy game control work and as a professional hunter, was one of Africa's giants in the business. He was a great elephant hunter and earned the reputation of having taken (for his clients as well as himself) more 'hundred pounders' than any man alive today. Born a laplander, he was a rough and tough customer, as hard as nails and not only physically but on others who worked for him. Nevertheless he was, and still is, for all his grumpy manners at times, a gentleman with a heart of gold. There are many who today owe their successful careers to him and the generous help he gave when they were in poor circumstances. He started hunting in East Africa at that period when many of the legendary figures were still around, and he knew most of them. He has a remarkable memory, and many times during the countless hours we have drunk scotch together, I have been astounded over the fact that he can still remember not only the history of some of those great names but of every hill, stream and waterhole from the Sudan to the Kalahari desert.
A personal friend of the actor John Wayne, himself a tough customer who had much in common with Eric, he was left a sum of money by 'The Duke' in his will to pay for a trip to America on the condition that it was used for the purpose of attending the actor's funeral. Today, Eric - now in his early seventies and describing himself as "old, fat, tired and all buggered-up" - lives half the year at his seaside home in Australia, and the other at his home in Cape Town.
Chandler - Rundgren was one of those white hunters who might very aptly be described as a living legend. He was a fascinating man, combining superb bush skills with a dominant, at times even abusive personality. ……….. [lots more]  Rundgren served in the war as a scout for the 11th Indian Division, serving in the Sudan and in Ethiopia. In 1944 he was released from the army at the request of Archie Ritchie to become a control officer at Nanyuki. His official career with the game department spanned the years from 1944 until 1952, when he quit and immediately became one of Kenya's best-paid white hunters ………
Suffice it to say that Eric Rundgren became on of the most popular, and controversial, white hunters of the glamour years of East African hunting in the 1950s and 1960s - a legitimate safari superstar, if you will. His hunting skills were exceptional even by the standards of his peers and he combined his talents with a colourful personality and a devil-may-care attitude that made him great copy. Rundgren was a tough man, capable of killing leopard with his bare hands, and he had incredible powers of endurance. He was also violent at times and prone to being a bully. He had a deep-rooted problem with authority his entire life, and sometimes flirted with the wrong side of the game laws. ……….. Rundgren died in Australia on 18 August 1992.
Pat Rundgren in mini-SITREP XLIV Eric arrived in Kenya when only seven months old. His godfather, Baron von Blixen, and his father steered him from the beginning into a life of professional hunting, and he went on his first professional hunt before he turned sixteen. Successively employed by the Government Forestry Department and the Kenya Game Department, he shot buffalo, elephant and lion on control work in the Aberdare Mountains. Enrolling into the Kenya Regiment 14 July 1939 [635/1166] he saw service in Abyssinia with 5th Battalion King’s African Rifles and EA Recce Squadron, attached to the 11th Indian Division. However, the restrictions and regulation of army life were not to his liking, so he offered his “immediate” services to Kenya’s Chief Game Warden, Archie Ritchie. For whatever reason, Ritchie exercised his considerable influence and Eric became a warden at Nanyuki before the end of the war. Eric became one of the most experienced hunters of all time, having shot more dangerous game than anyone else on earth. According to Brian Herne in his book “White Hunters, the Golden Age of African Safaris” (Henry Holt and Company, New York 1999), Eric’s nickname was “Mchangi”, small coloured beads favoured by the local tribesmen to embellish necklaces, belts and ornaments. If dropped, they roll everywhere - just like Eric. “The nickname did not bother Eric Rundgren in fact, very little bothered him. He unhesitatingly trampled on anybody if he felt like it, and not necessarily for good reason, or any reason at all. 35 ‘Mchangi’ made no attempt to rein in his explosive nature. He cynically gazed out at the world from heavily hooded Nordic blue eyes. Reddish-haired and fair skinned, Rundgren had a square jaw with lips that could easily snarl as smile. In his prime he was well muscled and big-boned, standing just under six feet in his socks, and weighing in at around 225 pounds. For his size Rundgren moved easily on the balls of his feet, his shoulders hunched like a prizefighter, often with a cigarette in his pudgy fist. At the height of his volcanic career as a white hunter in the mid 1950s and 1960s, Eric Rundgren was the most controversial professional of his day. People loved him or hated him. He was unpredictable, volatile and to some people he was nothing but a lout, rude and irresponsible. On one occasion Rundgren was instructed by Ritchie to shoot five hundred crop-raiding buffalo on Mount Kenya. To meet the challenge, Rundgren developed a specialized dog pack, which became his most important tool for buffalo control. The chances of escaping death or permanent injury from continuous buffalo hunting in thick forests, day after day, is slim at best. Rundgren was tossed, horned and savaged on seven occasions by buffalo. During one pursuit, a wounded buffalo charged, slammed hard into Rundgren, and tossed him over a riverbank. He landed in the gravel stream but held onto his ·450 rifle. Above him on the bank was the buffalo looking down at him. Lying in the shallow river Rundgren shot the buffalo in the throat and it collapsed. By the time Rundgren had personally shot over 3 000 buffalo he had no taste left for control work. This staggering number of buffalo taken on behalf of Government is a greater number than any one man has ever shot. He was not proud of these statistics, and avoided discussing it. In just seven years of control hunting Rundgren also personally shot 434 lion, easily another record, if one’s counting”.Late in 1952, at the age of thirty-four, Eric Rundgren resigned from the Game Department after a heated argument with a colleague and joined ‘Safariland’ for his first professional safari. As it turned out, he was charged by an elephant and almost mauled to death by a leopard that he was following up after one of his Mexican clients had wounded it. Instead of playing dead, Rundgren fought back and tried to strangle the leopard. This is akin to wrestling a chain saw that has run amok. In the blood-soaked battle Rundgren kicked, swore and fought back as the big cat shredded him”. The beast was finally shot by one of his clients and he spent the next two weeks in hospital being stitched back together. During the Kenya Emergency he was an inspector [E862] in the Kenya Police Reserve and qualified for the Africa General Service Medal with ‘Kenya’ clasp to add to his WWII campaign medals.
He bought a farm at Naro Moru, on the eastern side of Mount Kenya, but sold it and moved to my grandmother’s plot at Kikambala on the Kenya coast, north of Mombasa. His commercial fishing venture failed, and he returned to hunting. Unfortunately, his marriage fell apart, and he later married Harriet, one of his well-heeled female clients. He once followed a huge elephant tusker over the Kenya border into Tanganyika and illegally shot it. The tusks weighed in at a magnificent 178 and 174 pounds. However, in order to avoid prosecution for poaching the tusks had to be cut up into smaller pieces! There would always be sportsmen who would come to Africa to hunt with Rundgren - for his daredevil tactics and incredible hunting ability. One loyal client said “At least he was a great bad ass! You never knew what he would do next. Every moment was a surprise!” Rundgren will be remembered for many things, not least because he helped a number of young hunters in the early stages of their careers. Back in 1952, one of those hunters was Mike Prettejohn, [3975] who accompanied Rundgren on a private rhino hunt on Mount Kenya. During the hunt Rundgren shot the 5th world record rhino. Prettejohn commented, “Eric had the instincts of a wild animal, and could outwit them all. He was a brilliant bushman, and gave me invaluable experience and advice that no one will ever have the opportunity to repeat. He was, as fellow hunter Bill Ryan said, “A bloody fine hunter; a legend in his own time”. In 1964, Eric Rundgren left Kenya and moved to the then Bechuanaland (now Botswana), where he started his own hunting company, Bechuanaland Safaris, in partnership with the Henderson brothers, Ian and Alan, of Doddieburn Ranch, Colleen Bawn, Southern Rhodesia. The Hendersons were also from famous stock, their father having won the Victoria Cross during the native uprisings in 1896 in Rhodesia. When the Rhodesian bush war intensified and it was no longer safe to transport his clients by road from Victoria Falls into the hunting camps in Botswana, Eric moved to South Africa and started ‘Wilderness Safaris’ operating photographic safaris out of the Pilansberg north of Pretoria. He finally immigrated to Australia, where he died, if I remember rightly, of a heart attack (although I would guess that his liver would have ultimately exploded as well). Eric still holds the world record for sitatunga and features prominently some 50 years later in other categories of ‘Rowland Ward’s Records of Big Game’. His autobiography was written by Dennis Holman in 1969, entitled ‘Inside Safari Hunting with Eric Rundgren’.

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