Poachers as prey

Rosalea Ryan | Bendigo Weekly | 15-Feb-2018

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The Cull, Tony Park, Macmillan Australia, $29.99
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Rhinoceros are dying, being shot under cover of night and having their horns lopped off to feed an illegal trade thousands of kilometres away.

Sonja Kurtz is frustrated. Not only has her work to establish an all-woman anti-poaching patrol ended disastrously in an ambush with the loss of two squad members’ lives but now it appears her boyfriend, ex-CIA agent Hudson Brand, has taken advantage of her absence from their home to indulge in a blatant affair.

Scouting for fresh work, Sonja is approached by high-profile British entrepreneur and animal lover Julianne Clyde-Smith, whose business interests are flourishing among the easternmost game reserves of southern Africa.

With seemingly limitless finances at her disposal, Julianne is determined to both rid the region of its illegal wildlife slaughter and expand her resort empire by acquiring any properties that fail to fortify their own operations against lawlessness.

Her plan has Sonja at its heart: a carefully chosen militia of experienced international mercenaries and local operatives will search out and neutralise the cross-border hunters before they have a chance to strike.

The exact composition of the line-up is at Sonja’s discretion: in addition to young former maid Tema Matsebula, a member of her now-disbanded Leopards squad, and tracker Ezekial Lekganyane, Sonja recruits Angolan career soldier Mario Machado, a proven killer with a murky past and an ever-ready trigger finger. The group is directed by Julianne’s head of security, fellow Brit James Paterson.

When events take an unanticipated turn Sonja finds herself on the run, fleeing from one out-of-the-way park to another in a bid to stay one step ahead of both the so-called “authorities” in countries where corruption is well entrenched – South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania – and hired assassins.– Rosalea Ryan

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