Tony Park - International Author

The Protector

Tony Park
Books of Africa

The Protector - Tony Park

Synopsis

Professor Denise ‘Doc’ Rado is South Africa’s expert on pangolins, busting poachers and freeing the endangered anteaters in elaborate undercover stings.

After a risky operation backfires, Doc’s life is shattered, but she still has to lead an eclectic group of donors on a wildlife tour of southern Africa.

But there’s a target on her back.

As the safari ventures deep into Africa, Doc fears they’re being followed and she will do anything to keep them all safe – especially Ian Laidlaw, a handsome Australian businessman turned accidental philanthropist.

Is Doc being hunted by the poachers she once fought, or is there some other bloodthirsty predator prowling the wilderness?

Another gripping thriller by Australia’s master of adventure about rescue, revenge and redemption, and the things we do to protect the ones we love.

Behind the Scenes

Have you ever seen a pangolin in the wild?

I haven’t, and I’ve been going on safari through much of the continent of Africa for nearly 30 years. These shy, elusive little scaley anteaters are hard to spot yet, paradoxically, they’re the most poached and trafficked mammals on the planet.

At the time of writing, it’s been 20 years since the release of my first novel, ‘Far Horizon’, which dealt with elephant poaching, and it’s sad to say that the trade in endangered wildlife still ranks amongst the top five organised crimes in the world today.

One of my readers, Lauren, suggested that I write a novel about pangolins. I’d wanted to, for some time, but just as pangolins are secretive so, too, is the world of pangolin conservation a tight-knit community.

Fortunately, Lauren introduced me to renowned pangolin expert, Professor Ray Jansen from the Tshwane University of Technology and doors began opening.

I was able to witness a live undercover bust of pangolin poachers in Hoedspruit, South Africa (that was a coincidence, by the way, just right place, right time); I visited a secretive wildlife conservation centre where rescued animals are rehabilitated; and I was able to interview various people involved in conservation and counter-poaching operations.

Pangolins are ruthlessly hunted and killed for their scales. Although made of keratin – the same thing as human fingernails, there’s a belief in traditional Chinese medicine that they cure various ills and improve lactation for new mothers. A species is being wiped out on the basis of superstition.

Professor Jansen, a former chair and founder of the African Pangolin Working Group, said that in the past eight years, to 2023, more than half a million pangolins have been traded out of Africa.

“Bear in mind that is only what has been intercepted, estimated at 10 to 20 percent of the actual trade,” Professor Jansen said.

Professor Ray Jansen - African Pangolin Working Group

Professor Jansen said that after the COVID 19 pandemic, which was initially believed to have been started by people consuming dead pangolins, people around the world became more aware of the issue and the pangolin trade went underground.

“It’s now more tied up with organised and syndicated crime,” Professor Jansen said.

Just like Professor Denise Rado, the fictitious heroine of ‘The Protector’, Professor Jansen has taken his passion for pangolins outside of the lecture room and has been an agent infiltrating the trade in over a hundred successful undercover sting operations aimed at retrieving pangolins and catching pangolin poachers.

The sinister nature of this high-stakes crime was brought home in graphic reality during my research. While I was writing the book one of Professor Jansen’s brave undercover agents was ambushed and assassinated by criminals.

Professor Jansen summed up the plight of pangolins: “This special and unique small group of mammals are the most poached and trafficked mammals on the planet and their demise is purely at the hands of mankind. The world needs to be aware of their plight and urgent action needs to be taken to reverse this trend before they are gone for eternity.”

I hope you enjoy ‘The Protector’, and maybe learn a bit more about this amazing, threatened species and the heroes who are working hard to protect them.

Tony Park - Books of Africa

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