His father assigned him to teach the scouts hand-to-hand combat. She met them in New York, and they agreed to participate in a documentary about elephant poaching. The episode aired nationally on March 30, But a strange place and time would test that love. Mark Owens is seen early in the documentary wearing camouflage, and with a pistol at his waist.
The confrontation with poachers brought troubles. The documentary suggests that the conflict between scouts and poachers had grown violent.
You shoot at them first, all right? So go out there and get them. Go get them, O. Sometimes poachers are killed and occasionally scouts have been killed. But we made the decision: Yes, we would continue to support the scouts. Then comes an arresting sequence, one seldom seen on national television: the killing of a human. On this mission, we would witness the ultimate price paid by a suspected poacher.
Where the Crawdads Sing Book Discussion Guide | Lake Forest Library
A pouch on the ground contains shotgun shells, and the scout removes a few of them to show the camera. The scout waits for the person camping there, a suspected poacher, to return. Onscreen, the scout is shown from behind, running through brush and carrying a rifle. He approaches a man wearing a gray jacket and brown pants, lying prone in a small clearing.
The man tries to move, lifting his head a few inches off the ground. The scout, his face blotted out electronically, fires a single shot at him. At this moment, a second figure is seen in the background.
His face and upper body are blurred, so that even his race is obscured, but he is dressed in green and appears to be carrying a rifle. The camera stays focussed on the wounded man, lying on the ground. His body jerks at the first and third shots. Then it is still. It almost gives conservation a very ugly name. Is it ugly because of the elephants?
Cry of the Kalahari—Part 2
The elephant or the person? Ask the elephant. And ask the human. The execution of the alleged poacher is not mentioned in the remaining twenty-five minutes of the broadcast. The documentary was well received by critics. They have given their lives over to a passionate campaign to save endangered African elephants. It is NOT a policy of our project. They insisted on going on patrol with the game scouts alone over and over but never said what they had encountered. We were just shocked. The ABC program asserted that Zambia had an unwritten shoot-to-kill policy, and the Owenses later said that a former tourism minister named Christon Tembo visited the North Luangwa area shortly before the ABC crew arrived and told scouts that they could shoot poachers.
But Zambia has never had a written shoot-to-kill law, and the government has stridently denied supporting such a policy informally; on occasion scouts who shot poachers have faced punishment. The investigation, however, encountered several difficulties. The first was the absence of a body. We have this all the time in the Northern Province. The animals eat the evidence.
The investigators were also hampered by the absence of the ABC cameraman and producer, who had long since left the country, and of Mark and Delia Owens themselves. They had departed on what they called a regularly scheduled leave to America in September, , shortly after the videotape was seen by Zambian investigators.
In their absence, the American Embassy in Lusaka took up their defense. The Owenses, in what they hoped was a temporary exile in America, solicited a letter from ABC News to absolve them of responsibility for the shooting. I can assure you in the strongest way possible that neither Mark nor Delia Owens nor any other North Luangwa Conservation Project staff were even in the area at the time of this shooting. The American Embassy warned the Owenses not to enter Zambia until the controversy was resolved.
In the letter, he said that it was the ABC producer—he does not name him, but Andrew Tkach was in charge of the filming in Zambia—who insisted on filming poachers. But the person who alerted locals to look for poaching was Mark Owens. Adrian Carr, a white Zambian, is one of the leading safari operators in the valley. In , Carr recalled, in the days before filming began, Mark Owens paid him a surprise visit. A cameraman went on a patrol in Zambia, during which a suspected poacher was shot. The dead man was never identified. At the time of the filming, Owens says, he had just learned that three corrupt policemen, dressed as scouts and armed with AKs, were coming to the park to kill him and any scouts they encountered.
This is absolutely exaggerated. Owens also wrote, in his letter to the Zambian attorney general, that the AR automatic rifle he is seen carrying in the ABC broadcast was a fake. What was he going to do if the elephant charged? But give me another solution. Years passed, and though no charges were brought and no warrants filed over the killing of the poacher, the Owenses never returned to Zambia. Investigators there are still eager to talk to them.
I recently visited the headquarters of the national police in Lusaka, where I met Biemba Musole, the deputy commissioner in charge of criminal investigations. In , as a young detective, Musole had led a team of three investigators to North Luangwa, where he spent a month searching for clues about the identity of the dead man and his killer.
The team travelled from village to village with a generator, a television set, and a VCR, and played the ABC videotape for hundreds of villagers. But they still could not identify the shooting victim. I told Musole that I had spent more than a month travelling across northern Zambia as well, trying to learn more about the killing. A letter from the Zambian inspector general, sent in , acknowledges the difficulty of the case.
Gore-Browne arrived in Northern Rhodesia during the First World War, as a member of a commission drawing the borders of southern Africa. He had dreamed of being the lord of a manor, and by he had completed the construction of a Tuscan-style mansion on twenty-three thousand acres of farmland. Thousands of Zambians depended on the semifeudal Shiwa plantation for their existence, but Gore-Browne became known over time for his advocacy of African self-rule.
When he died, in , he was hailed as a Zambian hero. When Mark and Delia Owens arrived in northern Zambia, they visited Shiwa before establishing their camp in the park. The Owenses say that they had a falling out with the Harveys after they reported their father, John Harvey, for poaching and Mark Harvey for running substandard safari tours.
Charles Harvey and I spoke on a night drive through the enormous Shiwa estate, passing herds of zebra, impala, and wildebeest. Delia wrote of one of her first conversations with Justice, who was in his early twenties at the time. All morning I have noticed Sunday stealing glances at the plane. I myself always wanted to talk to someone who has flown up in the sky with a plane. I explain that on earth we are so far from the stars that being up a few thousand feet does not make any difference in how close they look. On one of my visits to North Luangwa, I came across Sunday Justice, who was then working as a safari guide.
I used to fly to Lusaka all the time with John Harvey. Mark Harvey told me that the Owenses earned a reputation in the valley for their intolerance of local people. He loves the elephants, so all the killing made him very upset.