Tuesday, August 20, 2013


by Anthony Marr

Note: Chapters 1, 2 & 3 were posted on Aug. 12, 15 & 15 resp.

In spite of her outward cool, her heart had been pumping at 120 beats a minute, and that was before the action even remotely started. Rebecca was doing nothing more nerve racking and strenuous than merely grooming Fire and Brimstone. The horse himself was quivering in excitement, partly due to his own inner expectations and partly in empathy with Rebecca.

She heard footstep approaching from behind, but thinking that it was Travis, she refrained from turning around. Anything she does caused by him would empower him, and she for some reason does not want to empower him in the least.

"Good morning, Rebecca."

She turned at once. It was not Travis, but Jake Hawthorn.

She straightened up, brushed a strand of blonde hair from her eyes, and forced a smile. "Oh, hi. Good morning, Jake."

"Listen, uh, just wanna tell you that there are no hard feelings."

"Oh? I didn't know that there were any bad feelings at all."

"Well, let me put it this way. When it comes to winning or losing money, there are always feeling."

"Then, let's just say that were feelings involved, mine were good, and still are."

"I'm glad to hear this, Rebecca, and let me add that they are about to be even better."

"Wow, I'm not sure I could handle any more excitement."

"You will have an audience at your rhino hunt today."

"And why should my feelings improve because of this? In fact, I find this a rude intrusion. I have in mind to hunt Hercules ON MY OWN. I want to be the only living human being within the horizon centered upon Hercules. Even Travis will be dismissed."

"You known that's illegal."

"I will sign a death release if you want, but I will not allow my intimate act of love with Hercules be voyeured upon."

"There are others besides Travis."

"Dismiss them too."

"I'm afraid that will not be possible."

"And why not?"

"I have already promised it to my new client."

"I don't care who it is. That's not part of our deal. Again, to gawk at me while I consummate my love affair with Hercules is an act of voyeurism. That arrangement is between you and your client. It has nothing to do with me. From me, no means no. So, please cancel it."

"As I said, Rebecca, that will not be possible. We are talking about the president of the United States."


"So, you have the most powerful man in the world as your captive audience."

"And what makes you think that I would be excited by that? Besides, he's married."

Jake was all but speechless.

"Would you want to be watched when you have sex with your wife?"

"Come on, Rebecca, you're getting unduly personal."

"And you think telling me that I have to perform a sexual act in front of a total stranger, even one with a big - ego, is not personal?"

"Look, uh, just go through with this, please."

"Sorry. All of a sudden, I'm not feeling well. I'll postpone the hunt indefinitely - till I feel better."

"Alright, listen, you go and take down Hercules today, and I will pay you 10% of the president's fee."

"Of what?"

"Of his black-maned lion."

"You've got to be joking, Jake. 10% of $25,000 is $2,500. What kind of a high class prostitute you take me for?"

"20% then."

"That makes $3,000. I spend that much a day back in New York. And hunting Hercules will be a lifetime experience for me."

"30% then."

"Jake, let's stop talking about the lion. Tell you what. Pay me 30% of the president's fee for a rhino hunt. Now that might trigger my exhibitionist instinct."

"Are you cr..."

"Uh uh. You are coming to me. I didn't come to you. Let's make this point clear."

"30% of a rhino hunt is $100,000. But, since the president did not ask for a rhino hunt it would be easy for me to deal."

"Deal." She extended her hand without hesitation, and Jake shook it like an automaton. "And, by the way, he will."

As they were conversing, there was a drone hovering over Hercules. It was an RC helicopter equipped alternatively with a zoomable HD video/still camera by day and an infrared video camera by night. An on board transmitter would beam the footage frame-by-frame down to a ground based receiver hooked up to a laptop computer on which screen the image at any one split second would be displayed in real time, while it was being recorded in the computer's hard drive. On the right of the laptop was the joystick by which the drone was controlled, both in flight characteristics as well as the camera functions. The piloting of the drone is conducted as if the footage on the screen was the view from the cockpit of a real helicopter. Right now, the laptop was on the hood of a jeep located about a horizontal mile from the drone. Gripping the joystick was the right hand of one Dr. Mark Lee, and dead centre on the screen of the laptop was one magnificent male black rhino.

The noon day heat raised such a broad and steady thermal that the drone on low power could just float on it, thus lengthening the duration and range of the flight. His mission was to conduct a grid-by-grid aerial survey of the rhino population and distribution, and, while at it, monitor the poaching activity, plus, if possible, intervene by direct action, that is, by means of the drone. For this purpose, it was also equipped with a ten-pack "fire-cracker" releaser, where the "fire-cracker" is activated upon release with a twenty-second fuse delay.

In order not to disturb the wildlife nor alert the poachers, Mark maintained a minimum hovering altitude of 300 meters at all times where the quiet sky-blue electric drone would be all but invisible and inaudible. This minimum height is observed even when releasing the fire-crackers, where he would aim the camera vertically downward, and release the rocket-shaped projectiles when the target area was at screen centre. So far, he had had several occasions to hone this skill in real life poaching situations, and more than one rhino had been thus saved.

Now the drone was at a 45 degree angle above the rhino, and, with the camera aimed down 45 degrees, Mark executed a horizontal 360 degree sweep with the camera set at wide-angle.

Almost at once, he noticed three ground vehicles approaching the rhino at a charge. At a hundred yards, they came to a halt. A dozen black dots emerged from the vehicles spread out in a fan, which in Mark's mind constituted a poaching gang.

Just one thing out of the ordinary. There appeared to be a zebra about half way between the rhino and the vehicles, and the zebra appeared to be trotting from the vehicles towards the rhino, with something looking like a baboon sitting on its back.

Mark stabilized the drone, aimed the camera at the zebra, zoomed in, and realized that it in fact was not a zebra carrying a baboon, but a large horse carrying a small human, a woman to be exact, one with what appeared to be a hunting bow in her hand.

While sensing the woman's malicious intent in his gut, Mark was puzzled. This departed markedly from the general MO of a poaching gang, nor that of an anti-poaching patrol. Nor was he aware of any wildlife biologist backed by a dozen men or more. If anything, it invoked a scene from the movie Troy, where the Greek coalition army sent Achilles out to do one-on-one battle against Hector. But still, it did not make full sense. If this is a trophy hunting party, why would it send out a woman armed only with a bow against a massive rhino full of testosterone and soon adrenaline as well?

The woman maintained a steady trot, bearing an off-direct course for a tangential approach to the rhino. When she reached the point of closest approach on that tangent, she stopped the horse. Mark estimated her distance to the rhino to be 30-40 yards. He maximum-zoomed the telephoto on her, and, due to the slight vibration, he switched over to "Still", and snapped a dozen still shots of her, at least three of which caught her in profile, two in quarter frontal and one full frontal.

Then, he kicked himself that in his puzzlement, he did not think of repositioning the drone for a fire-cracker release. Were he to do it now, he would momentarily lose sight of the woman. But before he could move the drone, if he wanted to, he saw the woman draw her bow, fire off an arrow, draw the bow again and shot again, and a third. He wide angled the lens, and saw that the rhino had orientated his massive body at the woman and begun a ponderous charge. The woman shot off another arrow. And then, her horse reared and threw her on to the ground. The horse regained his balance, and began to run away, but the woman held him back by the reins which she retained in her hand. The rhino continued his charge and was soon on to them. Quickly, she positioned the horse in between the rhino and herself, and, in Mark's inner rhetoric, "offered him up as a living shield".

Before his very eyes, the rhino ran his horn clean through the torso of the horse. While the two animals were lock in the death struggle, the women ran off 30 yards, and shot another half a dozen arrows into the rhino. And when the dust had finally settled, the only one left standing was the woman.

Mark zoomed in to her again and snapped a few more still shots, one of which caught her raising her bow above her head at the observing party in triumph. In some disgust at himself, Mark finished what he had to do. He aimed the telephoto at the observing party, zoomed it to the max, and snapped another dozen still shots. To his amazement, a least two of them showed the face of the President of the United States.

Note: The pic shows Joella Bates' kill.


Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)

Saturday, August 17, 2013



"Dear Sir," typed Jake Hawthorn on his laptop keyboard in his Namibia bush office tent, "I am much gratified that you have again chosen African Nights Safari to be your outfitter and Mr. Travis Waltrip as your hunting guide. Mr. Waltrip has already performed a thorough pre-hunt reconnaissance of the intended hunting area. A magnificent black-maned lion has been selected for your pleasure. This lion is the most handsome of the notorious Gang of Four which has just taken over the previous AAH pride. The hunt can commence immediately upon your arrival. I look forward, sir, to be of service to you again. Patriotically yours, Jake Hawthorn."

He read it once over, then pressed "Send".

Still fuming over the blackmail of Rebecca, his business mind nonetheless began firing electrons. How better than to use her to regain his loss? The hunting fee for a big male lion is $25,000. The current fee for a rhino hunt is $350,000. There is no comparison. And the timing is excellent. This premium client would be arriving within a week, about the same time as Rebecca's unprecedented "complimentary" rhino hunt.

For ten days, Rebecca religiously followed "her" Black Hercules on horseback, taking pictures of him from all angles and in all strides. Lunch time or not, she was salivating. Black rhinos have a certain ponderous grace unequaled on the African plain. The lions are super-athletes, but even large males lack the rhino's stupendous presence. And while elephants are majestic, they're too heavy to break from their shuffling running-walk into a trot, much less a canter, not to mention a gallop, all of which the rhino can gracefully execute.

Once, she got a little too close, and he mock charged, making her Thoroughbred stallion Fire and Brimstone take automatic flight. With each succeeding encounter, she found herself getting closer and closer to Hercules, and with every succeeding charge, she found herself containing Fire and Brimstone longer and longer until the infuriated super-unicorn was almost upon them. Then she would release the steed into an instant full-gallop.

Rebecca was in love.

Then, towards the end of the week, two what she recognized to be military Black Hawk helicopters arrived, flanking a white civilian Ranger helicopter bearing a blue insignia on its flank. The trio landed in a field some two hundred yards from the hunting camp, and parked in a triangular formation, each facing outward. The Ranger was the one facing the hunting camp. Within a minute, a man in safari attire emerged from the white helicopter, followed by four men in military fatigue. The first glimpse of the man through her binoculars took her breath away. No, not love at first sight, which Rebecca had experienced countless times in her life, nothing like that. Just moments before, and all week long, she was head over heels in love with the Black Hercules, complete with sexual tension. This man, well, he was pleasant to look at, but not Brad Pitt handsome. He did project charisma, but not in possession of a Stallonesque physique. His silver hair did make him look distinguished, but not in an Adonisian fashion. But for those beholders who recognized him at first glance - and who wouldn't? - it was not irresistible appeal, but indefensible power - the legendary ultimate aphrodisiac. She could feel it in her loins.

She saw Jake and Travis each starting up their Land Rovers and raised a trail of dust which eventually joined the larger dust cloud raised by the helicopters. They parked in tandem near the white helicopter and obsequiously welcomed the world's sexiest man and his four body-guards on board. The vehicles then retraced the dust trail back to the main hunting tent into which all but two of the men entered. These two men seated themselves with practised casualness in two canvas camping chairs each on one side of the tent entrance. Not so casual were the M-16s they leaned against the chairs.

While the engines of the helicopters were winding down, eight men emerged from the Black Hawks, who effortlessly erected at the center of the triangle the biggest tent she had ever seen, surrounded by three military tents. Meanwhile in camp, the kitchen staff brought heaping plates of what she had become familiarized to be venison, or bush meat, into the main tent, from which wind-distorted laughter emanated.

At sunset, the men emerged, and were delivered back by the same two Rovers to the helicopter bivouac. Lamps were lit inside the huge tent, with silhouettes cast fleetingly on the tent walls. Soon, quietude descended, gradually replaced by the sounds of the wild African night.

The next morning, she was awakened by the sound of a helicopter taking off. Upon exiting her tent, she saw that the sun had ascended halfway up the eastern sky, and the helicopter camp looked all but deserted save the two Black Hawks and three sentinels guarding the perimeter. She cursed herself for sleeping in.

After fuming until her coffee got cold, she had one of the staff tack up Fire and Brimstone and rode out solo in search of Hercules, per chance to come across the power-hunting party. Without the guidance of the ever dog-like Travis, she had no luck. The invigorating running with the zebra and wildebeest herd did not stir her soul one iota. In frustration, she brutally spurred Fire and Brimstone ten miles back to camp.

Upon her arrival, it was late afternoon. As she trotted the horse back to the corral, something caught her eye, by which she was momentarily stunned - the skin of a black-maned lion stretched out on a vertical frame, next to the one in which the hide of Achilles was still spread-eagled. The power- party had evidently returned to its bivouac. Whom she did encounter was her hunting dog Travis, who was wearing his characteristic wolfish grin.

"Hey Rebecca, where've you been?" said the guide airily. "I was getting worried."

"Seeking Hercules," she answered with as few words as possible.

"Any luck?"

"Not telling, considering that if I said yes, you would frown, and if I said no, you would laugh. Neither I find very appealing."

"I take it that it's a no then. Haha!"

"Take it whatever way you like."

"My day has been fantastic!" he said with false glee.

"I don't remember asking."

"Well, our big client got his lion, under my expert guidance of course."

"I find neither earth-shattering."

"This day is the biggest day of my life!" announced Travis to the sky.

"Really? Sounds familiar. Isn't that what you said to me the night Achilles died."

"Ah, well, yeah, but this one is in a class of its own. Tell you a secret, if you promise not to tell."

"That's what secret means, Travis. But what makes you think that I'm interested."

"Ohhh, if I told you, you'd become extremely interested, guaranteed."

"So tell me, if it really distresses you not to."

"Well, first off, he is not a good shot. I had to finish it for him."

"Oh, really? You had to finish Achilles for me too. Now I see what you mean by gallantry."

"Hey, don't get me wrong. His is a scoped 30-06; yours was a bow. There is a big difference."

"Oh, so his is an 'is' and mine has become a 'was'?"

"Damn it, Rebecca!"

"Take your mind off it, Travis. My feelings are not your concern. This is the Day of your Huge Client, so let's keep me out of it."

"You are twisting my words..."

"What did you mean by 'first off'?"


"You said, 'First off, he is not a good shot.'"

"Oh, that. Well, other than this, he is pretty fantastic."

"How? After all, he is my competition for your attention now."

"For one thing, he is one of the most powerful men in the world..., hell, THE most powerful man in the world."

"Who? The president of the United States?"

"You said it. I didn't."

"Pleading the Fifth means admitting."

"Whatever you say, Rebecca."

"So, what is the president going to do tomorrow?"

"Without confirming that this client is the U.S. president, he will be watching a hunt tomorrow."

"What hunt?"

"A rhino hunt."

"Whose rhino hunt?"



Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A PLANET'S RANSOM - Ch. 2 - [How 25 arrows killed one elephant]

Ch. 2 - [How 25 arrows killed one elephant]

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)

Monday, August 12, 2013

A PLANET'S RANSOM - Ch. 1 - [How one arrow killed 25 lions]

I'm currently up to Chapter 62 of a novel tentatively titled [A PLANET'S RANSOM], in which one of the leading antagonists is a highly intelligent but, even more so, wicked woman named Rebecca Bates, who also happens to be a trophy hunter. Her same gender opponent, one of the leading protagonists, is an equally intelligent but, even more so, conscientious woman named Shannon Stone. These two women are almost twin-like in appearance, but diametric opposites in moral, ethics and conscience.

If the book ever becomes a movies, I would love to have Sharon Stone play both roles, I think for fairly obvious reasons.

To demonstrate the wickedness of Rebecca Bates, here is a teaser in the form of Chapter 1. I hope by the end of the chapter, you will have begun to loath her. But be forewarned, this is just a fore-taste of her true nature:


(Note: This is just a draft. It will be polished when the manuscript is finished. Please excuse the typos.)

On this day, Rebecca Bates killed twenty-five lions with a single arrow. She did not have an accurate count, nor did she much care. But she was aware of the consequences before they occurred, and she did not care at all.

Most people have a purpose in life. Some don't. And those who have purposes in life are in two main camps - the good and the evil. Rebecca did have a purpose in life. It was continuous and evolving. At that point in her life, it was to hunt the Big-5.

Up to two months before, her general purpose was to hunt every huntable African species, and have at least one head from every species mounted on her rec-room wall. Last time she looked, three of the four walls were crammed with taxidermied animal heads, from duiker to monkey to jackal to hunting dog to hyena to boar to ostrich to impala to wildebeest to zebra to elan to hippo to giraffe. At the centre of the back wall was a cheetah. But the front wall was blank. This wall, she has reserved for the cape buffalo, the leopard, the lion, the rhino and the elephant - her now desperately desired BIG-5.

The primest of the prime specimens, please. No compromise there, thank you. An elephant, for example, the tusk length record was 3.264 meters (10 ft 8.5 in), and weight-wise it was 102.7 kg (226 lbs 7oz). She was not going to accept any elephant with less than 10ft/100kg tusks. And given the fact that, thanks to ivory poaching and trophy hunting, the average tusk weigh has been declining by as much as 1.5 pounds per year in recent years, she felt an overwhelming sense of urgency. The big tuskers are disappearing. She must have hers before he's gone.

Oh, and she had set a certain criterion for herself. She would take them down, one by one, not with a high-powered big-bore rifle, but with her 75-pound compound bow, for the buffalo, the leopard, the lion, even the rhino, and even the elephant. It started with nothing more profound than a dare when she watched a TV-show on women bow-hunters. At first she just wanted to join their rank. But gradually, she began to want to outdo all of them. She took up archery in earnest. Measuring just 5'3 and 120 lbs, she could hardly draw a 45 lb bow at first. The African bow hunting rule stipulated a minimum draw weight of 70 lbs for the Big-5 - for deep penetration especially for the rhino and the elephant. So she put herself through a vigorous body building program. When she landed in Africa for the third time with her favourite hunting bow two months ago, she was a sleek and muscular 140. And with her long blonde hair and ice-blue eyes, she was the mythological huntress Diana personified, or so she saw herself.

A woman named Shannon Stone, the Vice President of a ten-thousand-members-strong group called the Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC, as in "We will, we will, GAHC YOU!"), once published a blog series titled [The 12 Most Vile] female trophy hunters of the time. Rebecca Bates was the second. She did not make top spot because it was occupied by one Sarah Palin.

To claim her Big-5, and to fully savour every tiniest nuance of the chase, Rebecca had set aside six weeks. Now, into the third, she had bagged a trophy-sized Cape buffalo and a big tom leopard. No doubt these were each a thrill and a half, but she could not fully concentrate on them even when the hunts were in progress. To her, they were first and foremost the necessary steps to her goal, the means to three ends, namely her lion, her elephant and her rhino. She found herself somewhat robotic while firing three arrows into the buff, no more animated than while target shooting. And the leopard, well, the challenge was in locating one, and it was not her doing, but that of her very handsome hunting guide Travis Waltrip. When it came to shooting it, she even felt a tinge of contempt for the animal, for being the least of the Big-5. She had her skinner bring her the pelt, then matter-of-factly handed it over to the taxidermist, and that was that.

Since then, for five days now, she had Travis drive her far and wide to the far corners of the hunting concession, looking for the king of kings. In all, they found seven adult-sized males, three with voluminous blonde manes larger than the other four with dark manes. Travis identified the three as being the pride males of what he called the AAH pride, so named for Achilles, Agamemnon and Hector, which comprised seven lionesses and twenty four cubs of various ages from two months to over two years. The other four were a band of young brothers which he called the Gang of Four, or GOF, which had been evicted from a neighbouring pride about a year before. As was the lion's way, the GOF roamed from territory to territory, making incursions and leaving their calling card in the form of their royal, scent charged urine, thereby checking out the strengths and vulnerabilities of the pride males occupying those territories. Though they had indeed tested the formidable AAH, they had steered a wide berth from that kingdom, There were weaker prides to target, and they were seldom seen in this neck of the woods. But lions being opportunists, they were never far away either. At night, Rebecca could hear their roaring contests, which sent thrills up and down her spine. By and by, she found herself losing interest in the GOF, and even when she dreamed, it was about a big blonde leonine Hercules.

For the last four days, she had patiently glassed AAH, minutely examining each - their relative sizes, their mannerisms, their blemishes or lack thereof, even their facial features. Especially their facial features. She would want none but the handsomest and most majestic adorning the front wall of her rec-room back home. Nothing an iota less would do.

Day before yesterday, she had firmly made up her mind. Achilles was hers, and not even Agamemnon and Hector combined could shake her from this her new obsession.

Yesterday, she spent the entire day watching Achilles alone. When Agamemnon and Hector crossed his path, they were but a blur. Only Achilles stood crystal clear in her eyes. She had fallen in love.

So far, she had held her peace from the equally patient Travis, who had merely sat by while she did her interminable telescopic scrutiny of what he took to be the entire AAH pride, cubs and all, plus the occasion glimpses of the GOF, without asking a single question, while surreptitiously admiring her curvy form obliquely from behind, and day-dreaming his own manly dream of romantic victory and sexual conquest. This was somewhat excusable, at least in his mind. He's been out here in this wilderness for eight months straight, and client after client had been big fat bankers or lawyers or politicians, or else the odd hitherto surviving drug lord. Women-wise, they had been nubile mistresses hanging on to the trunks of their money-trees, or dumpy and fretful wives trying to keep their spoiled broods in check. Besides, with Rebecca shelling out $1250 per day for his just being there, she could take all the time in the world indulging in her inexplicable distant lion-viewing to her heart's content. Then came the evening and the obligatory camp fire, and in the sensual flicking of the flames, her desire was revealed.

"Travis darling, bring me another cup that lethal brew of yours, will you?" she crooned.

"Nothing would give me greater pleasure, Ms. Bates," said he rising dutifully from his camp chair.

"Are you really that easy to please, Travis? Anyway, now that tomorrow shall be the day, you may address me as Rebecca, but kindly do not stray into Becky, much less Reb."

"I will be your servant to the end, Ms... uh... Rebecca. Your wish is my command," he said, while placing the second cup of strong coffee into her manicured yet powerful hands.

"And my desire is my wish."

He raised one eyebrow slightly, and lifted one corner of his lips, barely. "And what might your ladyship's desire be?"

"Not so fast, Mr. Casanova. I'm referring to the lions at the moment."

"Oh, but of course," he replied awkwardly, but regrouped with a touch of professionalism, "So, you have selected your quarry?"

"Indeed I have. Indeed I have," she murmured, as if confessing to the fire.

"Who has captured your desire? Which lion, I mean."

"Achilles. He's the one. He is mine."

"Whoa. No no. Sorry Rebecca, he is out of bounds."

"And why not?" She cast him a sidelong glance, which became a steady stare.

"He is the poster boy in my website and my show piece to all clients. His purpose in life is to entice them to cross the seven seas. Once they have set foot on this land, his task is done. It will be other, lesser, lions that will take the bullet, or arrow, as the case may be."

"Ah, you have hit the nail on the head, with one word."

"What word?"

"'Lesser'. I want nothing that can be so described. I want the very best. I'm glad you concur on which one this refers to."

"I'm truly sorry, Rebecca, but Achilles is not to be touched. How would the leader of the Gang of Four be? He is one magnificent specimen of the much sought after black-maned lion>"

"Nope. Achilles it has to be, or the hunt is off."

Travis tried, but could not maintain contact with her piercing eyes, and let his gaze drift down to the one of the crackling imported logs. "Look, I'll have to consult my senior partner on this," he mumbled weakly.

"Well, well, so you're not man enough to call your own shot?"


"Alright, let's approach this from another angle, an angle I'm sure you can appreciate. Everything has its price. So, tell me what Achilles' price is."

"One moment, please." He stood up stiffly, pulled his satellite phone from his pocket, walked off ten feet, and punched a speed-dial. Moments later, he ambled back, and said, "Mr. Hawthorn said that he would required three times the fee."

"See? There is no such thing as not-for-sale."


"I will pay you double. Thirty grand. And you can keep the change."

"I'm sorry, Rebecca, three times $13,500 is $40,500."

"Thirty grand, and you can have me for the night. Take it or leave it," she said, without a hint of passion in her voice.

Under the stars, the sounds of the wild African night was polluted somewhat by those of human origin, emitted from Rebecca's tent to be exact, vocal, but non-verbal. But the great orchestra of nature was nonetheless dominated by the lions. The sound was awe-inspiring and horrific. The lions had taken down a large animal, which Travis said to be a giraffe. And the hyenas were the uninvited and unwanted guests to the feast, which lasted till dawn.

In the mid-morning, from about a mile out, they spotted Achilles resting in the shade of an acacia tree, alone. Travis tested the wind and said that they were at a cross-wind to Achilles. He guided Rebecca down wind, then made a stealthy direct approach. At about a hundred yards, she halted Travis, who had by then unslung his rifle.

"Wait here," she ordered.

"I can't do that," he protested.

"You're gonna have to." And with this, she began to advance towards the sleeping lion, bow not drawn, but arrow nocked.

Present day

Travis hurriedly assumed a prone position on a slight rise, and kept Achilles dead centre in his scope. With his other eye, he saw Rebecca approach Achilles in much the same manner as that of a lioness approaching a zebra herd. At forty yard or so, no more, she stopped, stood up erect, drew her bow, took careful aim, and launched the arrow right through Achilles' chest. The lion gave a surprised grunt, lept to his feet, hesitated a split second, then charged head long at his tormentress, with a hurricane in his mane. Rebecca cradled another tri-bladed arrow, and was midway through drawing her bow, when a barrage of three shots came from Travis' rifle, which brought Achilles a crumpled heap at her feet.

She stood staring at him for a long moment, while Travis reached her at a run. When he had come to a screeching halt, she turned to face him, and delivered a resound slap on his cheek.

"See what you've done!" she scream at him. "You ruined this hunt for me! I wanted to kill him MYSELF!"

She didn't know, nor would she be interested to know, nor would she care if she did, but within days of Achilles' demise, the Gang of Four invaded the AAH pride, vanquished Hector, evicted Agamemnon, exterminated all 24 cubs to terminate the AAH line, and claimed the seven lionesses for themselves towards propagating their own.

It is the lion's way and she knew she was in no position to pass judgement on the morality of any species, including of course her own. She might feel a fleeting pang of regret had she heard about the cubs, but cubs were worthless to trophy hunters anyway. She would see them as accepted bilateral damage in her quest to mount the magnificent head of Achilles towards immortalizing her Big-5 wall.

Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"No pain, no gain"

My computer has been slow as molasses lately. Unable to play HD videos notwithstanding, had I held my breath for the simplest executions to happen, I'd be dead by now.

Windows Task Manager (Ctrl/Alt/Del simultaneously) showed that I had up to 108 processes running, and the CPU usage was an unyielding 100%. I called a computer store and was told I had a virus.

I ran the computer through Avast, AVG and Avira (the top 3 free anti-virus programs), and they did find some undesirables, which they removed. But the computer was as slow as before. They also found a couple that they could not remove. I then ran Malwarebytes (top-rated free anti-malware program), and it found quite a few, and had them removed. Then I ran the SUPER Anti-spyware, and more showed up, and removed. And then, I used RegClean Pro to fix all registry errors. But the computer was slow as before, CPU usage still maxing out at 100%. I called the store again, and they said that it would cost me 150 or more to fix it.

I checked other computers and found that their CPU usage fluctuated between 10-50%, but their number of processes were only between 60-80, compared to my 95-108. Windows Task Manager also showed the specific processes being run. I went through them one by one and closed those I thought were unnecessary. A couple of times, when I removed a process, the computer crashed, and I had to reboot. But by trial and error, I reduced the number down to below 80, and, voila! the CPU usage went down from 100% to 20-50%, and computer regained it's previous speed. HD videos grace the screen again.

So what is the moral of this story?

1. The computer problem was a pain in the butt, and cost me significant time.

2. The fix-it-myself approach was trial and error, amounting to pain on pain, and time plus time.

3. But I learned a lot about computers through the painful process.

4. The problem was solved - without expenditure.

5. I gained a sense of satisfaction in myself.

But the point I really want to make is this: The computer situation can be a microcosm of the LIFE situation. When something goes wrong with ones life, it could be agonizing, and one might wish that it didn't happen. But without it happening, one would not gain new knowledge about life, nor experience the satisfaction of success. A painless life is a stagnant life where the advance of the soul is concerned.

And it comes full circle to what we've been saying for eons: No pain, no gain.

Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

"A nation of hamburger flippers"

“We Have Become a Nation of Hamburger Flippers.” - Dan Alpert.

If you have been reading the news on a daily basis as religiously as I have, you would find yourself totally confused by good-news/bad-news, both referring to the same thing - the US economy, particularly job growth.

Mainstream media tend to report on ever lowering unemployment rates, from 8.5% last year gradually down to 7.4% yesterday, and you could take comfort in it and close the screens and go shopping.

On the other hand, "fringe media" would tell you that the new jobs created are low-paying and often part-time, and the unemployment rates are calculated by first eliminating the "non-participants" from the equation, i.e. those who have given up looking for work (last I heard was close to 1 million, and rising), thus making the unemployment rates look lower than they really are.

Further, other related signs, e.g. the severe shortening of unemployment benefit coverage periods in various states, the increasing number of food stamp recipients nation-wide (lowest est. 47 million, latest 100 million), hardly support the rosy illusion.

Most hurtfully, when we think about it, who speaks for the suffering of the long-term unemployed, whose resumes are categorically swept into the waste basket of employers without a glance? None that I've come across, even once. They have become regarded as worthless social rejects or not parasites, swept under the economic rug to rot.

Meanwhile up at the top, the Federal Reserve ("the Fed" - US central bank) counts on the illusory "improving employment picture" to determine its globe-affecting policies, particularly regarding Quantitative Easing (QE), i.e. the injection of $85 billion per month of newly printed paper money into Wall Street, artificially boosting the stock market, which continue rising to "confirm" the "economic recovery". And herein lies the greatest danger.

The fact of the matter is that the $85 billion/mo injection is supposed to haul the nation up from the 2009 Great Recession, not as long term sustenance of a chronically faltering economy. The longer QE continues, the bigger the bubble when it eventually will burst. The longer it continues, the harder Wall Street will crash when QE has to be "tapered" and eventually withdrawn.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke must be the most carefully watched person on Earth. Anything he says will be analysed to the letter and will have wide-spread effects not only on the US economy but the global economy. Over the last several months, he merely hinted at that QE would have to be "tapered" later this year, down to zero in mid-2014. Wall Street, so myopic that it cannot and does not care to look more than a month or even a week down the road, reacts to Bernanke's every word with immediate rising and falling of the stock market. Bernanke himself watches his own every-word to make sure that the financial house-of-cards does not disintegrate on his watch. He knows that QE has to stop to prevent a catastrophic crash, and the longer he waits, the worse the crash would get when it happens. If he suddenly announces today that QE would cease tomorrow, Wall Street would crumble for certain, but not as bad as he waited until next year to announce it.

Sorry to say, as I said last year, a full scale economic collapse in the US is inevitable, and the longer this is delayed by the continuance of QE, the more catastrophic the collapse will be, including a worse replay of the 2008 housing meltdown, corporate bankruptcies and massive layoffs.

Can there be any good outcome? Sorry, not that I can see. My best advice is to prepare for the worst. The most optimistic thing I can say is that to build a new house, the old one has first to to be demolished.

Read this article [“We Have Become a Nation of Hamburger Flippers”: Dan Alpert Breaks Down the Jobs Report]

Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)