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Sunday, 19 January 2014

More valuable than gold or cocaine

Last year, there was an increase of over 50% from the previous year. If this is a symptom of an improvement in the global economy, it’s a tragic one. We’re not discussing manufactured goods, as such, but rhino horns. A record 1,004 rhinos were poached – slaughtered – for their horns in South Africa.

Worth £40,000 a kilo in Asia, the rhino horn is more valuable than platinum, gold or cocaine. In Asia it’s used as an ingredient in traditional medicines. The newly affluent population of China and Vietnam can, seemingly, afford these so-called medicines.
Some figures for illegal kills of rhino in South Africa:

2011 – 448

2012 – 668

2013 – 1004

So, in three years, that’s 2120 less rhino to tread the earth.

South Africa has most of the world’s population of rhino – some 20,000. At that rate of criminal attrition, there’ll be no rhino left in 25 years or so… The majority of the killings take place in Kruger National Park. The rangers there are now sending drones to patrol above the park so that they can scramble crack armed units by helicopter when poachers are sighted.

An excerpt:
Stealthily, Jalbala hurried to a window and cautiously peered in.

            His heart leaped. This was it! There were easily fifty people working on three different kinds of production line, each section partitioned by waist-high boards. Several machines were grinding rhino horn, the fine powder being deposited into receptacles moving on a conveyor belt. Other machines were slicing up elephant tusks. Beyond, at the head of a conveyor belt, were assembled labelled jars in serried ranks; these were being filled with measures of fine powder.

Another section was crammed with boxes of cut tusk, where four elderly men speedily and expertly carved ornate three-dimensional figures – erotic couples, exotic animals, Buddhas, Chinese bridges and fishermen.

- Blood of the Dragon Trees, p199
Purchase the Crooked Cat e-book from here
Purchase the Crooked Cat e-book from here

A recent 5-STAR review:
I really enjoyed this fascinating novel. Action packed with many twists and turns, it's a compelling read, heavily concerning two atrocious crimes that have only recently been uncovered here in the UK. Set on the idyllic holiday island of Tenerife, the novel exposes how illegal traders in endangered species and also human trafficking thrive on making a massive fortune from their disgusting activities there.

Who would ever think, least of all the heroine, Laura Reid, when she takes up her attractive post teaching the young twins, Maria and Ricardo Chavez, that these unthinkable goings-on actually exists on the lovely Canary Islands? Or that she would unsuspectingly become involved with such atrocities when she meets Andrew Kirby and his pal Jalbala. But then as the story begins to unfold it soon becomes evident that logistically in many ways these islands are ideally located for it.

Nik Morton has woven a masterfully written fictional story based on these appalling facts - a thriller and romance rolled into one that draws you in with plenty of suspense and fast paced action. Each chapter ends with a hook leading you eagerly on to the next. The characters and all the location settings on the island are colourfully realised. The author, who clearly knows Tenerife well, gets it absolutely right. Not once did I feel that all the research that must have gone into writing such an emotive and gripping thriller becomes too obvious.

I congratulate Nik Morton on this gripping page turner, which culminates in a very exciting and satisfying ending. Highly recommended. – Jan Warburton, author of The Secret etc…

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