Elephant Safari by Peter Riva Banner 



by Peter Riva

June 24 - July 19, 2024 Virtual Book Tour





A documentary team hiking through East Africa collides with a gang of deadly poachers, in this gripping adventure by the author of Kidnapped on Safari.

Years of filming, extreme dangers, and daring rescues have taken their toll on documentary producer Pero Baltazar and his team. To relax and reconnect with the East African wildlife they love, Pero organizes a walking safari for him, his camerawoman Nancy Breiton, and their elite guide Mbuno Waliangulu. Still, Pero has trouble truly disconnecting from work. When the team comes across a herd of elephants making their annual migration north of Lake Rudolf, Pero decides the team will film their journey from Kenya into Ethiopia along the Omo River.

What begins as a peaceful trip quickly turns into a chaotic nightmare as the trio crosses paths with a crew of poachers whose ivory sales are financing terrorists. The three are determined to protect the endangered herd from slaughter, and Mbuno enlists the help of local tribesmen. But the corruption of ivory poachers has deep roots that stretch to UN refugee camps, Chinese gangs, and the Iranian elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard. Faced with overwhelming odds, the trio must now rely on Pero’s contacts in the CIA, as well as Mbuno’s skills in the bush, if they hope to ever return from this excursion alive . . .

Praise for Elephant Safari:

"If you’re in the mood for an African thriller series to add to your summer reading pile, Peter Riva has got you covered. Riva’s impressive career has provided him with plenty of inspiration for his novels, which he writes as a form of relaxation."
~ The Lakeville Journal and The Millerton News

"Many readers will enjoy this story for its fast pace, engaging characters, and insights into world politic. I particularly loved the depth of knowledge about the natural history and ecology of the East African landscape. This may be a thriller but it’s also an important book about the killing of elephants for their ivory tusks."
~ Sharman Apt Russel- John Burroughs Medal winner


Book Details:

Genre: Action and Adventure Thriller
Published by: Open Road Media
Publication Date: January 30, 2024
Number of Pages: 302
ISBN: 9781504085335 (ISBN10: 1504085337)
Series: The Mbuno & Pero Thrillers, 4 | Each is a Stand-Alone Novel
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop.org | BookaMillion | Goodreads | Open Road Media

Enjoy an Excerpt:

In modern Kenya and most of East Africa, elephant were dying out, Mbuno knew this and lamented. His chest ached for them. Gone were the innumerable small herds of his youth, mostly replaced by farms, settlements, human sprawl, and tourist attractions. What elephant remained had their age-old pathways and migration routes blocked, stopped, fenced, and constantly monitored. White men came and collared them, watched them on scopes, darted them, sampled them, and even shot them when they became a nuisance to farmers with cash. What elephants modern man did not manage in parks were easy prey for poachers. The days of the Liangulu hunter were over. Mbuno knew this, accepted this, and did not mind even half as much as he mourned the passing of the realm of the elephant.

All of Africa had once been the realm of the elephant. As the largest beast, immune to the normal prey and hunter battles going on all around, the elephant set the pace of the land, fertilized the forests, cropped the prairies, and paved the migration routes that all the migratory species followed. In times of drought, their superior intelligence showed where water could be found and even taught man to dig in dry riverbeds for a boundary layer of precious liquid. They created mud holes for mud baths to keep the insects at bay, used also by Cape buffalo and rhino. Over the millennia, they brushed aside acacia thorns and baobab saplings with equal ease creating the open plains. And, in time, Africa's rhythm resounded to the beat of their feet and their migratory timekeeping. Without the elephant ruling the land, the land fell into the discordant rhythm of the upright apes and began to fracture. Mbuno had known the last best years of the elephant's realm and, sadly, was now witnessing the fall of Africa's harnessing stability. Without the elephant to freely roam, the balance of nature would be broken, herds would grow to enormous size in protected parks and, outside that protection, devoid of traditional hunters, herds could be led by weak leaders who would fail to protect them from ivory hunters. Mbuno had heard this had happened before. At the end of the slave and ivory trade, in 1911 there were fewer elephants than now and the herds were only brought back from extinction by White Hunters—led by Teddy Roosevelt—using farm and ranch husbandry methods – culling every senile cow and bull. Young, vibrant, herds repopulated the migration routes. But now the elephant and Mbuno's tribal way of life were both threatened once again.

Mbuno looked back to make sure Pero and Nancy were crouched, waiting a few hundred yards away as he instructed. He then inched closer to the worrying herd, prone again, a sharp stone rolling under his hip painfully. He dared not move quickly, the bush above him would vibrate. He stopped any forward movement as he spotted feet, the small grey feet of a baby elephant, a mtoto.

One foot had an encircling, red, puss-oozing sore. Behind the mtoto's feet stood the mother. Mbuno could see the way the weight was shifting on both mother and child that the mother was soothing the young one who would be in pain. Silent pain, the sign of a strong herd leader. Or a very frightened herd, one that is being hunted. The mtoto's sore had been caused by a wire snare that had probably dropped off. Mbuno had seen this far too often. Now Mbuno felt compelled to do something, not just observe. It was now a matter of honor, duty, and common ancestry, not to mention his responsibility for the safety of his safari charges.

Mbuno's mind made decisions quickly. In the bush, life and death were often just moments apart. Soundlessly, moving no bush or twig, he retreated the way he had come, donned his pants only, and set himself into a running crouch. It was his usual hunter's pace, swift, determined, and ready for a change in direction. Circling the place where he knew the herd to be, he stayed four hundred yards away at least. Starting downwind and determinedly coming full half circle until he announced his presence to their sensitive noses, he tested their resolve. When he was sure they had smelled him, he knew there was real danger here because there was no charge, no bellowing threat, no foot stomp. The elephants could smell that he was only one man and also that he was a man of the bush. As Mbuno had feared, they clearly had a more dangerous enemy threat nearby, for they did not give themselves away. He continued his crouching circling run, sweating from adrenaline and the jini of the hunt. For he was hunting, but not elephant.

When he was three-quarters the way around his circle, he sensed, and then diving behind a fallen log on his stomach, he saw the men just outside the forest's edge. One was sitting on a pickup truck's hood and two stood in the flatbed. They wore no uniform. The man sitting was dressed as an Arab with a face scarf and camouflage trousers and bush shirt. He had binoculars but no gun. And two standing tribesmen looked like Pokot, Mbuno thought--northern, violent Maasai cousins. Hunters, not cattlemen. The two tribesmen had black rifles with yellow wood stocks and foregrips. Mbuno knew AK-47s when he saw them. Mbuno had seen these types of poachers before. They snared a baby and, in its squeals, it attracted the herd; close and closer until the slaughter would be efficient, deadly, machine gun rapid.

Standing behind a tree trunk on tiptoe, peeking out, Mbuno saw the panga (machete) on the flatbed tailgate, unsheathed, its 12-inch blade glistening, freshly sharpened. The back of the truck held two freshly drawn tusks; the brown blood still not yet black. The herd had been running and not just because of the mtoto.

Mbuno did not hesitate, did not reason, did not moralize. In the bush, the law of the land was kill or be killed. These men had killed, wasted the life of elephant, wanted to slaughter the rest, and were dishonorable. He saw them as little more than wanyama—vermin—to be stopped. Without altering his run, he circled behind the pickup and approached them from behind, soundlessly, before the men could even know he was coming.


Excerpt from Elephant Safari by Peter Riva. Copyright 2024 by Peter Riva. Reproduced with permission from Peter Riva. All rights reserved.



About the Author:

Peter Riva

Peter Riva has traveled extensively throughout Africa, Asia, and Europe, spending many months spanning thirty years with legendary guides for East African adventurers. He created the Wild Things television series in 1995 and has worked for more than forty years as a literary agent. Riva writes science fiction and African adventure books, including the Mbuno & Pero thrillers. He lives in Gila, New Mexico.

Q&A With the Author:

Who is your favorite author and why?

It is impossible to have one favorite author at my age. I’m still enamored of Robert Louis Stevenson, Dickens, H. G. Wells, Heinlein and so many more. Currently, I’m drawn to non-political non-fiction authors still trying to sort out America’s past like Herb Warden’s “American Courage.” On the fiction side, I can always re-read John Le Carre, Gavin Lyall, Alistair MacLean for their understanding of how a true, unexpected, hero can develop.

What is something unique/quirky about you?

I grew up in a theatrical family with a sense of drama and display… and I was a math nerd until age 19 and then turned to the arts for a while. I was a gofer on the original Monty Python series in the UK and learned how to think outside the norm from them. But the quirkiest thing about me is that I listen to short-wave radio or streaming radio from around the world every day, sleeping at night with an earpiece.

What was your inspiration for writing this book?

I have no right to hog things I have seen, so I want to share; events I have witnessed that people may find interesting, true to the land people, and news facts, when pieced together, can cobble up a darn good yarn. Set in place, my characters (and the locale is a character in my books) develop their own impetus, stumbling on truths, events, people, and evils they have to face. Inspiration? Just a need to allow others to know what I’ve learned (without boring them I trust).

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

People I knew, places I came to thrive in… revisiting them, allowing their truth to appear on the page to share with everyone… these are the foundation of countless happy hours, late into the night, typing away.

Do you have any other books you are working on that you can tell us about?

I have a sequel to my TAG sci-fi series that’s almost ready and one more African adventure for Mbuno in editing – this time without Pero – deep into the Congo with threatened Gorillas. Mbuno ends up rescuing the scientists he was guiding – and a host of other captives as well from dangerous tribes in the Congo.

Anything more you would like to say to your readers and fans?

Feedback is always welcome. Some readers have challenged facts in my books and when I then point them to data and real events (like pulling bodies out of Lake Victoria with the UN for two days or The Calhoun Rat Studies) – hugely important truths that the media almost always downplay or miss – these are great moments for me.

But more than anything, remembering my true friend Mbuno, creating a facsimile of him and this father (from Mbuno’s recounting tales of his father) and his ability with elephants, all this hopefully inspires people to better understand the importance of local knowledge, respect, and husbandry in nature, long before the Slave Trade and Ivory Trade tried to ruin everything. Now, of course, the ivory trade continues for huge sums of money for terrorism…. Maybe readers will better understand and want to stop poaching.

Catch Up With Peter Riva:
Instagram - @peterriva_author
Facebook - @peter.riva



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