TITLE: Young Radicals: Lion
GENRE: Lower YA
Bordering Mozambique and Zimbabwe at the tip of South Africa's north east, Kruger National Park is a wildlife reserve bigger than Wales. Thousands of animals roam the plains – eating grass, plants and each other like they've done for millions of years. Rangers patrol the park on bicycles with guns slung over their backs – not to fight off lions or elephants, but to fight off lion and elephant hunters. Fetching a small fortune, lion claws are said to bring power and luck; and elephant tusks, known as ivory, are used for expensive art, piano keys and billiard balls. It's not legal, of course, the ivory trade was banned in 1989. But where there's money to be made there are crooks, and on the western fence of Kruger stood a gang of them, smoking and planning and up to no good.
Most were young black men in T-shirts and bare feet, succumbing to the knowledge they could earn more in a few days of poaching than they could in a few months of farming or laboring. Some held wire clippers while others held spears. Two white men leaned against an ex-army truck, clad in long cotton pants and shirts, presumably for protection against the most dangerous of all African animals – malaria-infested mosquitoes. Both men had guns – one filled with bullets that kill, the other with a dart that stuns. The man with the real gun barked orders at the young men while the owner of the tranquilizer gun watched silently.