of Anthony Marr’s book-in-the-making [A PLANET’S RANSOM].
Rebecca felt nothing about the two-dozen dead cubs, but she hired a helicopter to over-fly the old AAH territory until she spotted the scene of the carnage. She instructed the pilot to circle the site several times during which she took over a hundred aerial photos, then to set the chopper down for her to take close-up shots.
Meanwhile, through her weeks of Big-5 tracking, Rebecca had not relented on her upper-body-strength-training. To take down her next prey – by means of arrows – even her 75-lb draw bow would not suffice. To drive the heavy-gauge tri-bladed arrows deep into the massive body of her target, a draw weight no less than 90-lbs would be required. And 90-lbs is what her bow is now set at, which even Travis himself could barely manage.
While increasing the draw weight, she had to come to terms with decreasing expectation about tusk length. The rigours on the ground, including over thirty miles of trekking in the fierce African heat on some days, and at that without much to show in terms of her quest of the 100-pounder, had drummed into her the difficulty of finding even a 50-pounder, or tusks greater than 5 feet long. For this she suffered a bout of emotional belittlement, but emerged with the determination to find at least a 60-pounder, one with tusks at least six feet long.
To track elephants is different from tracking lions. Whereas the lions are highly territorial, roam the open savannah and sleep openly under acacia trees, elephants range widely in their quest for forage and water, and often frequent thick vegetation where the visibility is restricted to 30 yards or less. Which may as well, since the ideal shooting distance of an arrow is only 30 yards.
Other than the shooting distance, which for the scoped rifle could be hundreds of yards, bow hunting has the extra disadvantage regarding the angle of attack. Simply put, a rifle is capable of both the frontal brain shot meant to drop the element where he stood, and the frontal or broadside heart shot, whereas the flank heart shot is the only one the bow is capable of. The desperate bow hunter could of course attempt a frontal shot in the chest between the massive fore limbs, but it would more likely end up being a lung shot, and the enraged wounded animal would be directionally oriented to charge straight at you.
Rebecca is not the only female bow hunter, and won’t be the first to bow-hunt an elephant. The first woman who killed an elephant with an arrow was Teresa Greenfield, who dispatched her elephant with a single arrow, resulting in the elephant staggering for over a mile before collapsing. His body was recovered a day later, and it was still warm. The pain in the arrow-embedded heart which struggles to beat faster and faster cannot be imagined.
This did not exactly trouble Rebecca, but her burning ambition to out-do Greenfield found something in it that she could use to her advantage. Considering that the heart of an elephant weights some 28 kg or over 60 pounds, making it more than twice as large as an Easter Butterball turkey, it would be hard to miss at 30 yards. Thus she formed a plan of her own design – to kill her elephant in a different way – HER way. She would fire as many arrows into the heart of the elephant as the situation would allow, the goal being to kill the elephant as quickly as possible.
“I expect that the elephant will collapse within 100 yards of where the first arrow is launched, and will die within an hour of when the first arrow is shot,” she wrote to a hunting magazine, to which Teresa Greenfield was of course paying rapt attention..
The day when the 65-pounder was sighted, though too far to reach, the camp fire illuminated a scene where an act of extortion occurred.
Jacob Hawthorn, Travis’s senior partner, was nursing a glass of whiskey when Rebecca sidled next to him. “What a glorious day this has been, Jake,” she half whispered.
“Indeed, Rebecca, indeed,” enthused Hawthorn. “And tomorrow promises to be even more glorious yet.”
“I hope so. I won’t be able to sleep tonight.” Her gaze penetrated to the retina of his hooded eyes.
“If you don’t bring down that huge beast by sundown tomorrow, I will give you a ten percent discount.”
“Hmm, since you brought up this subject, What I have to say to you is that you will give me a hundred percent discount, whether I bring down the beast or not.” Her soft gazed transformed into a steely stare.
“Ha ha, nice try, Rebecca, I love you as a client, but not THAT much.” But his smile was forced.
“Oh, Jake, you will positively HATE me for it, but you will give me not only the 100% discount on the elephant, but a hundred and fifty percent discount on the promised rhino, and I don’t want a docile White rhino either, but a fiery Black rhino.”
“I’m having a hard time laughing to your sense of humour, Ms. Bates.”
“No laughing matter, I’m afraid, Jake.” She handed him a large and budging brown envelope. “Here, check this out.”
“Wh… what’s this?” He stammered slightly while taking the enveloped from her hands.
“Go on, open it. It won’t bite.” She smiled. “Hmm, on second thought, I think it might.”
He slowly set down his half-empty glass, awkwardly tore open the envelope, and extracted from within a thick stack of coloured photographs, which he stared at, one by one, eye-brows raised, jaw dropped.
“Wh… what’s all these?” He repeated.
“They are images of the remains of the AAH pride. A disaster that occurred on your watch. “They won’t cmake a pretty scene if and when exposed to the public.”
He could not take his eyes from the photographs, but in them began to smolder the smoke of anger, which soon morphed into fury.
“Does Travis know about this?”
“No. No one knows about this, as of now. But one such package has been sent to New York City, and received yesterday by my friend Edward Smith. If he does not receive anything else from me by midnight our time, that is two hours from now, he will release them to the New York Times, and the National Geographic, with your name plastered all over them.”
“This is blackmail, Ms. Bates, and blackmail is a criminal offence.”
“So sue me.”
At 11:45 pm, she received a two complimentary “rewards” from African Nights Safari, Inc., one for an elephant hunt, and the other for a rhino hunt, plus a “bonus” of $175,000 deposited into her bank account in Manhattan – exactly half the fee for a rhino hunt. At 11:59 pm, she made her call to New York.
“Edward,” she said within Jake’s ear-shot. “Hold off releasing the package until month-end If I return to New York safely before then, we could burn it, together; if not, release its to the press the first of next month.”
The next day, she did down her 65-pounder. She did it on horseback, alternatively fleeing the charging elephant and charging after it as it fled. In all, the scabbard tied to the saddles contained 25 arrows, all of which, within three minutes, had become deeply imbedded in the thick bulk of the behemoth, with none showing on the outside. Well within a hundred yards, he collapsed for good, as she had predicted.
Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)