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  • Writer's pictureJeff Ulin

How Working on a Rhino Rescue Project Inspired The Lord’s Tusks

I was inspired to write The Lord’s Tusks by an experience volunteering in Kenya on a

rhino rescue project.

Many years ago, I was lucky enough to spend a summer in Kenya’s Amboseli Game

Park helping train a government unit to capture and move endangered rhinoceroses to

sanctuary areas (helping is a stretch- I was a piddly volunteer fresh out of an

anthropology program). It was shocking to learn about the scourge of poaching animals,

a tragedy that has sadly only grown worse over time. I remain inspired by the work of

evolutionary biologists and researchers studying animal behavior. I was fortunate to

study under some of the field’s luminaries like Steven J. Gould and E.O. Wilson and

later in life spend time discussing conservation efforts with Jane Goodall. I could never

have imagined when conceiving this novel that it would be published in the wake of a

global pandemic and amidst alarming climate shifts—dystopian charting forces that

have put a new and urgent spotlight on the loss of natural habitats and survival

challenges confronting beloved species.

From this background somehow sprung the story of a big game hunter, waiting to inherit

a Lordship, who masterminds a poaching ring smuggling rhino horns and elephant

tusks. Thankfully, this is a pure work of fiction. And yet, there really are people who will

slaughter some of the most majestic animals gracing the earth in order to sell their parts

for profit. In many cases, the professed reason is a pure myth or fraud—such as the

belief that powder from a rhinoceros horn has magical medicinal value or can serve as

an aphrodisiac. Equally tragic is the fact that neither a rhino nor elephant need die to

take its horn or tusk (not that I am suggesting that the act of hacking off a tusk or horn is

defensible in any event). I have had the immense privilege of seeing countless rhinos

and elephants in the wild, both in Africa and Asia, and hope that generations to come

will also have the opportunity. I am in awe of these animals and heartbroken that their

survival is threatened.

I hope you’ll read The Lord’s Tusks and as a corollary to the story ponder why rhinos

and elephants are fighting for their lives. As horrific as the premise of the book may be,

there is an underlying conservation imbued theme tugging to rescue these magnificent

animals. In fact, the pending Lord’s scheme unravels when a researcher falls in love

with his stepdaughter and vows to save the animals at all costs. If only we could have a

similar mission to protect these animals in real life. More important than reading the

book, I hope the story may inspire you to think about the plight of endangered animals

and become involved in conservation efforts. Here on my website is a list of several

organizations devoted to broad conservation efforts, including some focused specifically

on protecting rhinos and elephants.

For a broader description of The Lord’s Tusks, please go to the book's page and to pre-order the book, please visit Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Black Rose Writing.


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