When rhino poachers kill two of his fellow rangers in Kruger Park, South African Defense Force veteran Cobus Venter reaches his breaking point. Quitting his job, he embarks on a vigilante mission to take down the animal-trafficking syndicate from the inside.
Meanwhile, in Florida, insurance investigator Randall Knight is called to a private roadside zoo, where a new tiger cub of suspect lineage brought a virus that wiped out all the zoo’s tigers. The disease is just one species jump away from erupting into a deadly global human pandemic. What starts as a simple insurance claim leads Knight to discover a shocking new evolution in the business of illicit animal trafficking. Both men’s journeys take them from the darkest corners of Southeast Asia to the VIP gambling rooms of Macau, where they must stay alive long enough to stop a vicious international triad from ending wildlife as we know it.
Animals is set in the world of global animal trafficking and follows converging story lines into a dark maze of corruption and organized crime, and through the journeys of the main characters, the novel explores the factors driving the exploitation and ruin of the natural world.
Though the story is fiction, the characters, locations, and plot points are almost entirely rooted in fact. They are the product of hundreds of conversations with everyone from Jane Goodall to the CIA, to Damien Mander (an ex-mercenary turned animal activist). To experience the issue firsthand, Will Staples took a month-long research trip spanning three continents and seven countries. The journey was a profoundly transformative, life-altering experience.
The author’s goal with this novel is to expose this issue to as many people as possible. To that end, all his income from this book will be donated to nonprofit organizations dedicated to protecting wildlife.
What listeners say about Animals
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- A. Rassweiler
Gripping story about the illegal wildlife trade
This is first and foremost a gripping adventure story. It follows several main characters who are each involved in the illegal trade in endangered species. The story carries the characters through scenes of poaching, through brutal wildlife breeding operations, through distribution and smuggling networks, and through a whole range of associated vice and crime.
The book pulls no punches in the details, and is quite gruesome in places, though some of the scenes of wild elephants and rhinos being killed in the wild have a haunting beauty to the descriptions along with the horror.
The book opens with the statement that although the story is fiction, the scenarios it describes are “rooted in fact”. I teach conservation biology at the university level, and the story and details match with my understanding of the plight of these endangered species. Indeed, I learned some new details in the book. For example, there are no successful captive breeding operations of big cats released into the wild. I was surprised by that fact (other big carnivores like wolves can be bred in captivity and released) but a little googling backs it up.
Although the book aims to educate the audience about the horrors of poaching and the trade in endangered species, it at no point reads like a lesson or a sermon. This is an action story and a page turner, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a thrilling international adventure.
Reading/performance is great, A little accents for some characters, enough to tell them apart, but not overdone.
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