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MANIFEST DESTINY – Book three

RHINO


I n 2015 nearly 1,200 rhino were killed by poachers in South Africa, an exponential increase from the 13 recorded in 2007. To put these numbers in perspective, in the early 20th century rhino populations exceeded nearly half a million across Asia and Africa, but now there are less than 29,000. Partially the decline in rhino numbers is due to human greed, but demand for horn is also driven by a deeply engrained belief in its medicinal properties held by Far Eastern cultures, traditional Chinese medicine having documented the use of rhino horn in its pharmacopeia over 2,500 years ago.
S adly the killing continues unabated, despite increased resources being devoted to combating poaching, with a large growth in rhino poaching reported in Namibia and Zimbabwe, and a worrying resurgence of elephant poaching across many more countries. The final bastion of some of the world’s most awe-inspiring animals is under siege, and many species are now threatened with extinction.
Rhino is a fictional novel in which its proponent Rudi Pietersen, a retired special forces operative and disaffected National Parks ranger, weaves his way through a convoluted tangle of gangs, businessmen, conservationists, police, and political and military figures, as he tries to identify the chain of influence that is directing an intensification in rhino poaching in the southern region of the Kruger National Park.
Distinguishing friend from foe becomes progressively more difficult once Rudi develops the suspicion that his section leader is colluding with a ruthless gang of Mozambiquan poachers, and subsequently uncovers the involvement of Al-Shabaab who are using poaching as a means of generating cash to fund their terrorist activities.
However, there are more than just the more obvious criminal fraternity that have an interest in the value of rhino horn, and the arguments for and against the legalised sale of horn become opaque as it transpires that there are tacit links between those who present themselves as conservationists and those who control the illegal trade that serves foreign markets.
Undeterred, Rudi garners the tentative support of an alluring SAPS intelligence officer, Thea Niekerk, who is swept along by his stubborn determination to uncover the facts and bring to account those responsible for orchestrating the poaching. But, unintentionally, his intransigent behaviour draws Thea into a dangerous game of cat and mouse, placing her life at risk, and he is compelled to employ all of his special forces expertise to keep her safe, whilst doggedly pursuing his objective.
His quest will threaten almost everything he holds dear.

A WORD FROM THE AUTHOR

I would like to thank all those people in the hunting, anti-poaching and conservation fraternity who have shared their knowledge, experience and insight in order for me to weave an authentic story that seeks to present the complexity of the rhino conservation challenge, the extent of structurally embedded corruption, some of the social deprivation issues that fuel community apathy, and the moral and ideological dilemmas faced by those who are working so hard to try to assure the future of the species.
The novel will be complete by April 2017 and is pending a publisher.

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