Now, it's the luxury 'eco safaris' that continue to drive its economy. It has been both East Africa's damnation and its salvation that wildlife is the greatest natural resource it possesses.
Richard E Grant - who grew up in Swaziland - sets out to examine the controversial history of the safari. Exploring the world of the big game hunters and the luxury of today's safaris, he goes on a personal journey to experience how the beauty of the bush made Africa the white man's playground.
Award-winning actor Richard uncovers a world of danger, glamour and gung-ho. He reveals how the safari was continually reinvented as explorers and ivory hunters were replaced by white settlers, guns gave way to cameras and direct British rule to independence.
Through creative use of film and photographic archive, as well as meetings with those involved in big game hunting and luxury safaris today, the film reveals how safari has been and continues to be a barometer of our attitudes to travel, our colonial inheritance and Africa itself.