Blood Ivory is a story from Simon Ashcroft’s past when he was a counter-terrorism intelligence officer with the Australian Secret Intelligence Services (ASIS). He’s on a mission in northern Tanzania hunting the financiers of a South East Asian terrorist organisation.
Investigations lead him to the some of the richest wildlife reserves found anywhere on the planet. But in Africa, wild megafauna attracts poachers. Men who kill other men and animals for the prize of tusks and rhinoceros horns sought in the markets of China, Vietnam and the Philippines. Ashcroft is about to discover that the War on Ivory is more brutal and dispassionate than he ever expected.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania
The Ngorongoro Conservation Area is a protected wildlife park, a 20km wide volcanic crater and a World Heritage site. The landscape includes grasslands, savannas and forests. The Maasai people farm cattle among the wild herds of zebra, elephants, wildebeest, gazelles and lions.
Ashcroft is in Tanzania on loan to the National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit (NTSCIU). An anti-poaching team comprising of the best of the best from the Tanzanian police, army, immigration, judiciary, national wildlife service and TISS — the Tanzania Intelligence and Security Service.
Ashcroft soon encounters the butchered corpses of an extended elephant family, slaughtered less than an hour earlier by poachers. He’d come to Africa hunting terrorist but soon finds himself wondering if the fight to protect elephants is a more important battle.
When there is hope that one of the youngsters survived, Ashcroft and his companions cross the vast savanna in search of the missing elephant.
Arusha is a northern Tanzanian city on the eastern edge of the Great Rift Valley. Mount Meru, one of the tallest mountains in Africa is a striking backdrop to this high altitude and temperate city. Arusha is a major international diplomatic hub and multicultural city with African, Arab, Indian and European citizens of many religious beliefs include Christianity, Islam, Sikhism and Hinduism.
Ashcroft and his NTSCIU companions track the ivory poachers to a nightclub in the heart of the city. They are about to make an arrest when a gun battle erupts, and soon several of the poachers are murdered. Ashcroft pursues the assassin through the Arusha streets.
Tsavo West National Park, Kenya
Tsavo West is one of Kenya’s largest national parks with a variety of landscapes including swamps, natural springs, rocky peaks, grasslands and extinct volcanic cones.
Ashcroft and an American mercenary cross into the Kenya and into Tsavo as they continue to pursue a new group of poachers, hoping to catch them before they slaughter another family of elephants.
They soon find themselves in a gun battle against poachers armed with military-grade weapons. Complicating the encounter is a herd of distressed elephants, and angry hippopotamus lurking in the nearby Tsavo River. Ashcroft is about to discover what it means to be charged by a two ton hippo defending its territory.
Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
At almost 6km in height, Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world. Straddling the Kenyan-Tanzanian border, it can be seen up to 60km distant depending on the weather. Approximately 50,000 people climb the mountain every year and about seven of those people die in the attempt.
Ashcroft passes Mount Kilimanjaro several times while in Tanzania and Kenya, but he only sees it from afar. Towards the end of his adventure, Ashcroft faces as difficult confrontation while under the shadow of this great mountain with an adversary who might be his enemy or might be his ally. Ashcroft can’t tell.