Book Excerpt: To The Mara With Love by Ian Vincent | Lifestyle | KenyaBuzz

Book Excerpt: To The Mara With Love by Ian Vincent

01 Sep 2014 | By Ian Vincent

To The Mara With Love

“That’s the kind of money I’d like to make,” Popsy commented as she watched the helicopter disappear. “Meaning?” Macharia asked while he continued to stare sadly at the dead animal. “Half a million dollars in ten minutes flat!” He whipped round to face her, suddenly angry.

“How can you possibly come up with such an asinine remark after what has just happened? We’re losing rhinos to poachers so fast – and elephants as well for that matter – that our whole tourism industry is threatened. In case you didn’t know it, we’ve lost five rhinos in Nakuru alone during just the last three months!” he ended with the fire of wildlife conservation in his eyes.

“Have you quite finished?” Popsy asked him quietly. He nodded, but remained silent as he continued to glare at her.“Thank you but, before I tell you about what right now is at the forefront of my mind, can we please move out into the sunlight so our clothes can start drying  out?” Just over two minutes later they had un-strapped their bags, cast them to one side, and were now lying close together on the grass while both their clothes and their bodies absorbed the warmth of the mid-afternoon sun.

With the sun energising his body with its warmth, Macharia suddenly swivelled his head to stare at Popsy’s profile. “You were about to expound on your deepest thoughts,” he reminded her.

 “Yes,” she lazily responded as the sun’s heat slowly warmed her bones and gradually rekindled the fires in her mind. “But let’s initially get a few facts straight. Firstly, the rhino is dead, its horns are gone, and we have no details about the helicopter – except for the fact that it was green and cream in colour – and no idea where it went. Ergo, we can’t be of any help whatsoever with any follow-up investigation. To exacerbate the situation, this incident took a bare ten minutes out of the almost three hours since we first started trying to walk to safety through the wilderness. Now, do you want to stay here and weep over this tragic loss which, by the way, I feel just as strongly about as you do, or are we going to move our butts a little faster so we can still make it to the camp before dark?”
Macharia’s expression softened.

“Logical to boot,” he muttered, almost to himself. “Sorry?” she asked as she suddenly turned to face him. “Not only are you beautiful,” he said as he looked honestly into her eyes. “You’re obviously also extremely logical, and probably overly sensible as well. But all that can wait. Before we move on, will you please tell me where you got that figure of half a million dollars from?” Popsy threw him a wan smile at him before pointing at the carcass of the dead rhino.

“That animal once carried between five and six kilos of horn, and the black market price for it today is between eighty and a hundred thousand dollars a kilo in the Far East. And this is where KWS has such a massive problem with even trying to stop rhino poaching. I mean, imagine yourself as a KWS ranger with a loaded rifle and staring at a rhino. While doing so, you compare your meagre salary to your ten percent cut if you shoot the animal and hack off its horns with a panga or machete.”

“What are you suggesting?” Macharia asked her, his face suddenly solemn. “That KWS gets back to Richard Leakey’s paramilitary anti-poaching tactics which he used so successfully when he formed KWS so long ago. I mean, in those days, our Senior National Park Wardens were always out on patrol and shot poachers on sight. Today, they’re not allowed to, and the prison sentences for the few poachers who are apprehended are so light they resemble a vacation at a summer holiday camp. Even worse, today’s Senior Wardens are so bogged down by bureaucracy, red tape, endless meetings, lectures and whatever that they no longer have the time to get out of their offices to do the jobs they were originally meant to do.”

Macharia quickly thought about what she had just said, and just as quickly realised it was all true. His mind began to grapple with possible solutions, but soon gave up. Instead, he closed his eyes and turned away from her so that all the skin on his face was equally warmed by the sun. Seconds later, his lips parted with a question. “If President Kenyatta appointed you as the Director of KWS, what would be the first things you would do?”

Without a second’s hesitation she responded. “Re-enlist Richard Leakey back into the force as a senior advisor. Go to South Africa to investigate a chemical solution the owner of a conservation area there is experimenting with. He’s injecting it into the horns of live rhinos, and whoever ingests any part of the horn gets very, very sick. He’s also put multi-lingual signs all around his conservancy to warn off potential poachers, and he hasn’t lost an animal since. And then, finally, I would make an appointment to see the President of the United States, Barack Obama.”

Her response made Macharia lift himself up onto his elbow so he could stare down at her face.
“Why Obama?” “To get American funding for armed drones, like those they’re using in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the Middle East. If we could borrow their controllers as well to teach suitably qualified KWS personnel in their use, we could use them with devastating effect to cover the areas where we have large numbers of both rhinos and elephants.”

She suddenly opened her eyes to look up at him, and immediately lifted her hand to shade them against the brilliant white glare of the sun.“It would be the only way we could effectively wipe out poaching in our country.”
This is an excerpt from the book by Ian Vincent

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