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Miller, a conservationist with vast knowledge of Kenya's National Parks and Preserves, has packed a good deal of zoological, environmental, political, and social information into this earnest, stiff-kneed novel--which dramatizes the monumental task of protecting Kenya's diminishing wild animal herds. Prime mover/coordinator in fictional Aruba National Park is Warden David Karanja, who faces an outbreak of poaching on a grand scale: 107 elephants have been slaughtered for their ivory. Furthermore, the Park's Field Force, a paramilitary operation involving men with ground and aerial transport, has been mysteriously deflected. And eventually David will discover the key to the mercenary poaching gangs in some unwitting spying by a ""lovesick"" office typist and her trysts with a greedy Park gate keeper--though there is also a solitary, almost legendary hunter drifting through the Park: old Heekuta, one of the land's displaced Waliangulus, who ritually takes his ivory with hand-made poison arrows. While David superintends meetings, plots counter-measures, or chats with co-workers and friends, enlightened romance is on the way in the lovely person of Halima Abdi, Director of the Park Education Center. (Halima is recovering from a love affair with a man who would not marry an un-""traditional"" subservient African wife.) There's also a late-autumn romance between a gruff, aging missionary nurse and equally feisty old plantation-owner Duncan Shelby. And finally the poachers are outfoxed--but there'll be a fierce ground-to-air battle, deaths, and a revenge-murder by Heekuta the wily. Careful, well-meaning, and intelligent--with sad views of dying animals, a tour of an orphan animal compound, and worthy discussion of such matters as the impact of drought on natural cycles--but, as fiction: rather wan.

Pub Date: Feb. 11th, 1982
Publisher: Simon & Schuster